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

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…

The pains and strains of a continental breakup in the media

West_Australian_margin.jpg

West_Australian_margin.jpg
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.

... Read more...

Welcome Back RV Investigator

Investigator__cruise_images

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

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

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

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

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. PLoS ONE, 11(3), e0150883. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150883 The GPlates Portal: Cloud-Based Interactive 3D Visualization of Global Geophysical and Geological Data … Read more…

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

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 interaction

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

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

GPlates Portal International Media Coverage

See the continents form and explore the Earth as never before  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3484766/See-continents-form-explore-Earth-never-Incredible-interactive-globes-planet-s-geology-evolving-let-sea-sediments-gravity-map.html#ixzz42ZW3kniA  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

gravity_grid_180my_agoThe recent article on the GPlates Portal published in PLOS ONE by Prof Dietmar Müller, Xiaodong Qin, Prof David Sandwell, Dr Adriana Dutkiewicz, Dr Simon Williams, Dr Nicolas Flament, Dr Stefan Maus, and Dr Maria Seton, has received significant international media attention over the past week, featuring in articles from Australia, UK, US, India, and UAE!

See the list of online media below, and check out the interactive globes yourself!

Read more…

History and current advances in reconstructing the Earth through deep geological time

Rodinia 1000 Ma

Rodinia 1000 MaTime machine: History and current advances in reconstructing the Earth through deep geological time – an article on Quartz by Steve LeVine. The article is a review of the development of ideas and technologies in reconstructing the Earth through deep time, aimed at understanding supercontinent assembly, breakup and dispersal, starting with Alfred Wegener. The article focusses on research activities in the context of the IGCP 648 project ‘Supercontinent Cycles and Global Geodynamics‘ led by Zheng-Xiang Li. The piece provides some historical context, and highlights the work of a number of leading scientists, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students currently involved in this work.  … Read more…

Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.Citation
Müller, R.D., Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.T., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., Cannon, J., 2016. Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup, Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in press.

Abstract
We present a revised global plate motion model with continuously closing plate boundaries ranging from the Triassic at 230 Ma to the present day, assess differences between alternative absolute plate motion models, and review global tectonic events. Relatively high mean absolute plate motion rates around 9–10 cm yr-1 between 140 and 120 Ma may be related to transient plate motion accelerations driven by the successive emplacement of a sequence of large igneous provinces during that time. … Read more…

Simon Williams reports from the TECTA Cruise

Water Column mapping of the Tasman Sea from the TECTA voyage

Water Column mapping of the Tasman Sea from the TECTA voyageEarthByter Simon Williams is currently part of an international team of scientists sailing around the Tasman Sea on board the French Research Vessel ‘L’Atalante’. The voyage is collecting geophysical data that will help to unravel the mysteries of Earth’s geodynamic evolution and subduction initiation East of Australia, as well as profound changes in Southwest Pacific climate and ocean currents through geological history. To read the news from the voyage, download the PDF newsletters below.

Newsletter Number 1, 10 September 2015 – pdf
Newsletter Number 2, 17 September 2015 – pdf
Newsletter Number 3, 25 September 2015 – pdf
Newsletter Number 4, 1 October 2015 – pdf
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Big Data Knowledge Discovery

Big Data Knowledge Discovery is an interdisciplinary research initiative that focuses on the scientific challenges and opportunities presented by the use of the new techniques of data science applied in the natural sciences. This research initiative brings together world class discipline leaders in the data-intensive sciences of Geo Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences with … Read more…

Nature – Onset of Antarctic Circumpolar Current 30 million years ago as Tasmanian Gateway aligned with westerlies

Simon Williams on the Southern Surveyor

Scher, H. D., Whittaker, J. M., Williams, S. E., Latimer, J. C., Kordesch, W, E, C., & Delaney, M, L. (2015). Onset of Antarctic Circumpolar Current 30 million years ago as Tasmanian Gateway aligned with westerlies. Nature, 523, 580-583.

Onset of Antarctic Circumpolar Current 30 million years ago as Tasmanian Gateway aligned with westerlies

Congratulations to Simon Williams and Tassie EarthByter Joanne Whittaker for co-authoring the paper in Nature.

In a project led by Howie Scher from the University of South Carolina they used fossil fish teeth recovered from the oceans around Australia combined with detailed tectonic reconstructions to shed new light on the origins of the world’s mightiest ocean current, … Read more…

Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic

Eocene topo bath

Eocene topo bathProject Summary
EarthByte is involved in a series of projects aimed at understanding and modeling Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic. Some of these projects include:

  • Future Fellowship of Maria Seton on “Oceanic gateways: a primary control on global climate change?”
  • Basin GENESIS Hub activities, related to the effect of the mantle, crustal deformation, erosion and sedimentary processes on sedimentary basins
  • ATOM – a coupled atmospheric-ocean circulation code jointly developed by Prof. Roger Grundmann and EarthByte.

EarthByte’s expertise in tectonics, geodynamics and surface process modeling is enhanced by close collaborations with leading palaeoclimate modellers and geochemical oceanographers.  … Read more…

Earth's climate throughout the Phanerozoic

Eocene topo bath

Eocene topo bathProject Summary
EarthByte is involved in a series of projects aimed at understanding and modeling Earth’s climate throughout the Phanerozoic. Some of these projects include:

  • Future Fellowship of Maria Seton on “Oceanic gateways: a primary control on global climate change?”
  • Basin GENESIS Hub activities, related to the effect of the mantle, crustal deformation, erosion and sedimentary processes on sedimentary basins
  • ATOM – a coupled atmospheric-ocean circulation code jointly developed by Prof. Roger Grundmann and EarthByte.

EarthByte’s expertise in tectonics, geodynamics and surface process modeling is enhanced by close collaborations with leading palaeoclimate modellers and geochemical oceanographers.  … Read more…

EarthByte joins ACTER

Simon Williams' ACTER talk photoRecently, EarthByte joined the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Tectonics and Earth Resources (ACTER). The joint research centre is led by the Institute for Geoscience Research at Curtin University and the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with involvement of Australian and Chinese universities and industry partners. The aim of the centre is to promote joint research activities, the exchange of staff and students, and to foster long-term mutually-beneficial collaboration between Australian and Chinese research groups. … Read more…

Nature Geoscience – Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes

Whittaker, J. M., Afonso, J. C., Masterton, S., Müller, R. D., Wessel, P., Williams, S. E., & Seton, M. (2015). Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes. Nature Geoscience, 8(6), 479-483. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2437. Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes Download supplementary materials – zip file

Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes

Whittaker et al 2015 MORs plumes LIPSCitation
Whittaker, J. M., Afonso, J. C., Masterton, S., Müller, R. D., Wessel, P., Williams, S. E., & Seton, M. (2015). Long-term interaction between mid-ocean ridges and mantle plumes. Nature Geoscience, 8(6), 479-483.

Summary
Plate tectonic motions are commonly considered to be driven by slab pull at subduction zones and ridge push at mid-ocean ridges, with motion punctuated by plumes of hot material rising from the lower mantle. Within this model, the geometry and location of mid-ocean ridges are considered to be independent of lower-mantle dynamics, such as deeply sourced plumes that produce voluminous lava eruptions-termed large igneous provinces. Here we use a global plate model to reconstruct the locations of large igneous provinces relative to plumes and mid-ocean ridges at the time they formed. … Read more…