EarthByte Honours Projects 2018

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EarthByte has now released a list of Honours projects to be offered in 2017. These projects are outlined below. Project Title Supervisor(s) Dynamic Earth models, landscape dynamics and basin evolution in Australasia Dietmar Müller, Sabin Zahirovic, Tristan Salles, Rohit Chandra, Sally Cripps (Centre for Translational Data Science) Incorporating modern plate tectonic reconstructions into box models of the deep-time deep-Earth … Read more…

A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints

Author List:  Austin Gion, Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller Citation: Gion, A.M., Williams, S.E. and Müeller, R.D., 2017. A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints. Tectonics, 36(2), pp.304-320. Abstract: The Eurekan Orogeny records Paleogene convergence between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The complexity of the region, well represented by the disputed magnitude of Cenozoic sinistral displacement of … Read more…

A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers

Author List: Sarah MacLeod, Simon Williams, Kara Matthews, Dietmar Müller and Xiaodong Qin Citation: MacLeod, S.J., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Müller, R.D. and Qin, X., 2017. A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers. Geosphere, pp.GES01379-1. Abstract: Extinct mid-ocean ridges record past plate boundary reorganizations, and identifying their locations is crucial to developing a better understanding of the … Read more…

Kinematic constraints on the Rodinia to Gondwana transition

Abstract: Earth’s plate tectonic history during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea is well constrained from the seafloor spreading record, but evolving plate configurations during older supercontinent cycles are much less well understood. A relative paucity of available palaeomagnetic and geological data for deep time reconstructions necessitates innovative approaches to help discriminate between competing plate … Read more…

Origin and evolution of the deep thermochemical structure beneath Eurasia

Abstract: A unique structure in the Earth’s lowermost mantle, the Perm Anomaly, was recently identified beneath Eurasia. It seismologically resembles the large low-shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs) under Africa and the Pacific, but is much smaller. This challenges the current understanding of the evolution of the plate–mantle system in which plumes rise from the edges of … Read more…

Global patterns in Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic: the role of subducted slabs

Abstract: We evaluate the spatial and temporal evolution of Earth’s long-wavelength surface dynamic topography since the Jurassic using a series of high-resolution global mantle convection models. These models are Earth-like in terms of convective vigour, thermal structure, surface heat-flux and the geographic distribution of heterogeneity. The models generate a degree-2-dominated spectrum of dynamic topography with … Read more…

The Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium Workshop

The recent Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium workshop organised jointly with the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney was the largest Australasian workshop for scientific ocean drilling on record with about 100 attendees from 12 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Japan, India, Germany, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, and the USA, with the youngest attendee being only … Read more…

Dynamic topography of passive continental margins and their hinterlands since the Cretaceous

Even though it is well accepted that the Earth’s surface topography has been affected by mantle-convection induced dynamic topography, its magnitude and time-dependence remain controversial.  The dynamic influence to topographic change along continental margins is particularly difficult to unravel, because their stratigraphic record is dominated by tectonic subsidence caused by rifting. We follow a three-fold … Read more…

Rodinia conference in Townsville reviews progress and challenges in reconstructing ancient supercontinents

Several EarthByters presented talks at the Rodinia 2017 conference in Townsville, including Dietmar Müller, Andrew Merdith, Simon Williams, Mike Tetley and Nicolas Flament.  The conference was opened by two talks by Alan Collins (Univ. Adelaide) and Andrew, presenting their new Proterozoic Rodinia plate model with continuously closing plate boundaries that were recently published in Gondwana … Read more…

A full-plate global reconstruction of the Neoproterozoic

Abstract Neoproterozoic tectonic geography was dominated by the formation of the supercontinent Rodinia, its break-up and the subsequent amalgamation of Gondwana. The Neoproterozoic was a tumultuous time of Earth history, with large climatic variations, the emergence of complex life and a series of continent-building orogenies of a scale not repeated until the Cenozoic. Here we … Read more…

Modelling and visualizing distributed compressional plate deformation using GPlates2.0: The Arctic Eurekan Orogeny

Gion_etal_figPresent-day distributed plate deformation is being mapped and simulated in great detail, largely based on satellite observations.  In contrast, the modelling of and data assimilation into deforming plate models for the geological past is still in its infancy.  The recently released GPLates2.0 software provides a framework for building plate models including diffuse deformation.  … Read more…

EarthByte Group develops machine learning recipe to find copper-gold deposits along the Andes

In a paper just published in the journal Tectonics, EarthByter and Natural Sciences, University of Sydney alumnus Nathaniel Butterworth and colleagues from the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney and Data61/CSIRO have developed a spatio-temporal machine learning recipe to identify subduction zone tectonic environments in which porphyry copper-gold deposits tend to form. The new approach … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

Author List: Kara Matthews, Kayla Maloney, Sabin Zahirovic, Simon Williams, Maria Seton and Dietmar Müller. Citation: Matthews, K.J., Maloney, K.T., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic, Global and Planetary Change, 146, 226-250. Abstract: Many aspects of deep-time Earth System models, including mantle convection, paleoclimatology, paleobiogeography and the deep … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

Matthews++_SummaryFigCitation

Matthews, K.J., Maloney, K.T., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic, Global and Planetary Change, 146, 226-250. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.10.002

Abstract

Many aspects of deep-time Earth System models, including mantle convection, paleoclimatology, paleobiogeography and the deep Earth carbon cycle, require high-resolution plate models that include the evolution of the mosaic of plate boundaries through time. We present the first continuous late Paleozoic to present-day global plate model with evolving plate boundaries, building on and extending two previously published models for the late Paleozoic (410–250 Ma) and Mesozoic-Cenozoic (230–0 Ma). We ensure continuity during the 250–230 Ma transition period between the two models, update the absolute reference frame of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic model and add a new Paleozoic reconstruction for the Baltica-derived Alexander Terrane, now accreted to western North America. This 410–0 Ma open access model provides a framework for deep-time whole Earth modelling and acts as a base for future extensions and refinement.

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Deep Carbon Modelling Workshop

Date:  August 29 – 30 2016 Venue: The University of Sydney Description: A two-day workshop bringing together climate and geo-scientists from around Sydney and international collaborators on the DCO-funded Deep Carbon Modelling project. Deep carbon science describes the multi-disciplinary effort to unravel the dynamic interactions of carbon-bearing systems in deep time. The workshop will focus on exploring the interplays … Read more…

Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins

Author List: Sascha Brune, Simon Williams, Nathaniel Butterworth and Dietmar Müller. Citation: Brune, S., Williams, S.E, Butterworth, N. P., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins. Nature, 1–4. doi:10.1038/nature18319 Abstract: Rifted margins are formed by persistent stretching of continental lithosphere until breakup is achieved. It is well known that strain-rate-dependent processes control rift evolution, yet quantified extension … Read more…

The pains and strains of a continental breakup in the media

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View of Australia’s western continental margin, looking eastwards from the Indian Ocean.

Congratulations to Dr Sascha Brune, Dr Simon Williams, Dr Nathan Butterworth, and Prof Dietmar Müller on their paper published in Nature earlier this week. The paper,  Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental marginshas been picked up by the media across the globe.

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Welcome Back RV Investigator

Investigator__cruise_imagesWelcome back to the geoscience crew from the ECOSAT II voyage on the RV Investigator! After braving close to 10 meter high waves and over 50 knot winds on their approach into Hobart, the team made it back safely with an impressive haul of rocks, geophysical data and the experience of a lifetime. … Read more…

The pains and strains of a continental breakup

View of Australia’s western continental margin, looking eastwards from the Indian Ocean. Every now and then in Earth’s history, a pair of continents draws close enough to form one. There comes a time, however, when they must inevitably part ways. Now scientists at Australia’s EarthByte research group, in collaboration with the German Research Centre for … Read more…

Research voyage onboard the RV Investigator

RV_InvestigatorBon voyage! Today, a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Simon Williams from the School of Geosciences, have boarded Australia’s state-of-the-art marine research vessel, the , for a 14-day voyage. The voyage departed from Lautoka, Fiji and is currently headed towards the Fairway Ridge, an uplifted but submerged part of the Lord Howe Rise, northwest of New Caledonia. … Read more…

A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow

Author List: Rakib Hassan, Dietmar Müller, Mike Gurnis, Simon Williams and Nicolas Flament Citation: Hassan, R., Müller, R.D., Gurnis, M., Williams, S.E. and Flament, N. (2016). A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow. Nature, 533, 239-242. doi:10.1038/nature17422 Abstract: Volcanic hotspot tracks featuring linear progressions in the age of volcanism … Read more…

Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models

Author List: Maral Hosseinpour, Simon Williams, Maria Seton, Nicholas Barnett-Moore and Dietmar Müller Citation: Hosseinpour, M., Williams, S., Seton, M., Barnett-Moore, N., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models. International Geology Review 58 (13): 1616–1645. doi:10.1080/00206814.2016.1183146 Abstract: The geodynamic evolution of the … Read more…

How the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain got its spectacular bend

In a paper published in Nature, Rakib Hassan with fellow EarthByters Dietmar Müller, Simon E. Williams & Nicolas Flament, and Caltech’s Michael Gurnis, proposed a solution to a long standing geological mystery – how the distinct bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain came to be. Using NCI’s Raijin supercomputer, the research team simulated flow patterns in the Earth’s mantle over the past 100 million years. The convection model suggests that the history of subduction has a profound effect on the time-dependent deformation of the edges of the Large Low-Shear Velocity Province (LLSVP) under the Pacific. The Hawaiian plume originates from the edge of this province and the southward migration of the plume during the formation of the Emperor chain reflects the migration of the northern edge of the LLSVP before ~47 million years ago. 
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Geologists Discover How Australia’s Highest Mountain Formed

Eastern_australia_topographyCongratulations to Prof Dietmar Müller, Dr Nicolas Flament, Dr Kara Matthews, Dr Simon Williams, and Prof Michael Gurnis on their paper recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Their paper, Formation of Australian continental margin highlands driven by plate-mantle interaction, has featured in a variety of Australian and international media outlets.

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Geologists Discover How Australia’s Highest Mountain Formed – Media Release

Eastern_australia_topographyGeologists from the University of Sydney and the California Institute of Technology have solved the mystery of how Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciusko – and surrounding alps came to exist.

Most of the world’s mountain belts are the result of two continents colliding (including the Himalayas) or volcanism. The mountains of Australia’s Eastern highlands – stretching from north-eastern Queensland to western Victoria – are an exception. Until now no one knew how they formed.

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PLOS ONE – The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data in a Web Browser

Author List: Dietmar Müller, Xiaodong Qin, David Sandwell, Adriana Dutkiewicz, Simon Williams, Nicolas Flament, Stefan Maus, Maria Seton Citation: Müller, R. D., Qin, X., Sandwell, D. T., Dutkiewicz, A., Williams, S. E., Flament, N., Maus, S., & Seton, M. (2016). The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data in a Web Browser. … Read more…

Earth and Planetary Science Letters – Formation of Australian continental margin highlands driven by plate–mantle interaction

Author List: Dietmar Müller, Nicolas Flament, Kara Matthews, Simon Williams and Mike Gurnis Citation: Müller, R. D., Flament, N., Matthews, K. J., Williams, S. E., & Gurnis, M. (2016). Formation of Australian continental margin highlands driven by plate–mantle interaction. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 441, 60–70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.025 Formation of Australian continental margin highlands driven by plate–mantle … Read more…

Geophysical Research Letters – Alignment between seafloor spreading directions and absolute plate motions through time

Author List: Simon Williams, Nicolas Flament and Dietmar Müller Citation: Williams, S., Flament, N., & Müller, R. D. (2016). Alignment between seafloor spreading directions and absolute plate motions through time. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 1472–1480, doi:10.1002/2015GL067155. Alignment between seafloor spreading directions and absolute plate motions through time

Earth-Science Reviews – The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin

Wright, N. M., Seton, M., Williams, S. E., & Müller, R. D. (2016). The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin. Earth-Science Reviews, 154, 138–173. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.11.015 The Late Cretaceous to recent tectonic history of the Pacific Ocean basin 

Tectonophysics – Full-fit reconstruction of the South China Sea conjugate margins

Bai, Y., Wu, S., Liu, Z., Müller, R. D., Williams, S. E., Zahirovic, S., & Dong, D. (2015). Full-fit reconstruction of the South China Sea conjugate margins. Tectonophysics, 661, 121–135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2015.08.028 Full-fit reconstruction of the South China Sea conjugate margins