EOS: Billion-year rewind tracks supercontinents and mantle structures

AGU Science News: Billion-Year Rewind Tracks Supercontinents and Mantle Structures – EOS has featured our recent paper on tracing past pathways of tectonic plates and their boundaries back a billion years. The article highlights how our work on solid Earth system evolution is driving “a second plate tectonic revolution”., inspiring future work to test and … Read more…

Solid Earth: A tectonic-rules-based mantle reference frame since 1 billion years ago – implications for supercontinent cycles and plate–mantle system evolution

Understanding the long-term evolution of Earth’s plate-mantle system is reliant on absolute plate motion models in a mantle reference frame, but such models are both difficult to construct and controversial. We present a tectonic rules-based optimisation approach to construct a plate motion model in a mantle reference frame covering the last billion years and use … Read more…

PyBacktrack 1.4 released

PyBacktrack 1.4 is now available, and adds support for generating paleobathymetry grids from submerged present-day crust. PyBacktrack is available as a Python package and a Docker image. Installation instructions can be found online in the pyBacktrack documentation. Changes since version 1.3: Can now generate paleobathymetry grids: Submerged oceanic and continental present-day crust is backtracked and … Read more…

Extending full-plate tectonic models into deep time: Linking the Neoproterozoic and the Phanerozoic

Recent progress in plate tectonic reconstructions has seen models move beyond the classical idea of continental drift by attempting to reconstruct the full evolving configuration of tectonic plates and plate boundaries. A particular problem for the Neoproterozoic and Cambrian is that many existing interpretations of geological and palaeomagnetic data have remained disconnected from younger, better-constrained … Read more…

Geoscience Data Journal: Subduction and carbonate platform interactions

Plate tectonics, as the unifying theory in Earth sciences, controls the functioning of important planetary processes on geological timescales. Here, we present an open-source workflow that interrogates community digital plate tectonic reconstructions, primarily in the context of the planetary deep carbon cycle. We present an updated plate tectonic reconstruction covering the last 400 million years … Read more…


We are very excited to announce the launch of the newly designed GPlates website. Visit the new website at www.gplates.org. After a few months of team work and dedication, we have made the new GPlates website more responsive and more mobile-friendly. As the development team of the GPlates open source project, our goal with this … Read more…

A global dataset of present-day oceanic crustal age and seafloor spreading parameters

Abstract: We present an updated oceanic crustal age grid and a set of complementary grids including spreading rate, asymmetry, direction and obliquity. Our dataset is based on a selected set of magnetic anomaly identifications and the plate tectonic model of Müller et al. (2019). We find the mean age of oceanic crust is 64.2 Myrs, … Read more…

PyBacktrack 1.3 now available as a Python package and a Docker image.

PyBacktrack 1.3 is now available as a Python package and a Docker image. The documentation is available at: https://pybacktrack.readthedocs.io/en/latest/ Changes since version 1.2: Supports Python 3: please also use the recent pyGPlates Python 3 release. Added the following output columns: dynamic_topography: change in dynamic topography elevation since present day decompacted_depth: depth from fully decompacted layers (using surface porosity only) … Read more…

Sequestration and subduction of deep-sea carbonate in the global ocean since the Early Cretaceous

Citation: Dutkiewicz, Adriana & Müller, Dietmar & Cannon, John & Vaughan, Sioned & Zahirovic, Sabin. (2018). Sequestration and subduction of deep-sea carbonate in the global ocean since the Early Cretaceous. Geology. 10.1130/G45424.1. Abstract Deep-sea carbonate represents Earth’s largest carbon sink and one of the least-known components of the long-term carbon cycle that is intimately linked … Read more…

Mapping the Growth of Seafloor Carbonates in Deep Time

A news article published by the Deep Carbon Observatory entitled “Mapping the Growth of Seafloor Carbonates in Deep Time” explains how Adriana Dutkiewicz and colleagues used records of carbonate layers logged from cores collected during scientific ocean drilling expeditions combined with a model of ocean basin evolution to unravel the role deep sea carbonate deposition might have … Read more…

The influence of carbonate platform interactions with subduction zone volcanism on palaeo-atmospheric CO2 since the Devonian

Abstract: The CO2 liberated along subduction zones through intrusive/extrusive magmatic activity and the resulting active and diffuse outgassing influences global atmospheric CO2. However, when melts derived from subduction zones intersect buried carbonate platforms, decarbonation reactions may cause the contribution to atmospheric CO2 to be far greater than segments of the active margin that lacks buried carbon-rich rocks and … Read more…

PyBacktrack 1.0: a tool for reconstructing paleobathymetry on oceanic and continental crust

The pyBacktrack software package allows the backtracking of the paleo-water depth of ocean drill sites, providing a framework for reconstructing the accumulation history of sediment components through time. The software incorporates the effects of decompaction of common marine lithologies and allows backtracking of sites on both oceanic and continental crust.  Backtracking on ocean crust is based on … Read more…

Predicting Sediment Thickness on Vanished Ocean Crust Since 200 Ma

Citation: Dutkiewicz, A., Müller, R.D., Wang, X., O’Callaghan, S., Cannon, J., Wright, N.M., 2017. Predicting sediment thickness on vanished ocean crust since 200 Ma. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 18, 4586–4603. Tracing sedimentation through time on existing and vanished seafloor is imperative for constraining long-term eustasy and for calculating volumes of subducted deep-sea sediments that contribute to global … Read more…

Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events Since Pangea Breakup

Author List: Dietmar Müller, Maria Seton, Sabin Zahirovic, Simon Williams, Kara Matthews, Nicky Wright, Grace Shephard, Kayla Maloney, Nicholas Barnett-Moore, Maral Hosseinpour, Dan Bower and John Cannon. 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 … Read more…

Earth and Planetary Science Letters – Assessing the role of slab rheology in coupled plate-mantle convection models

Bello, L., Coltice, N., Tackley, P. J., Müller, R. D., & Cannon, J. (2015). Assessing the role of slab rheology in coupled plate-mantle convection models. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 430, 191–201. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.08.010 Assessing the role of slab rheology in coupled plate-mantle convection models

pygplates beta revision 12 released

GPlates Vector Logo

GPlates Vector LogoThe first beta release of pygplates (the GPlates Python library) is now available for download.

pygplates enables access to GPlates functionality via the Python programming language. This may be of particular use to researchers requiring more flexibility than is provided by the GPlates user interface.

The following pygplates functionality is available:-

  • Load and save feature data (GPML, Shapefile, etc)
  • Create/modify/query feature data
  • Traverse/modify/query plate rotation hierarchy
  • Partition into plates and assign plate properties
  • Reconstruct geometries, flowlines, motion paths
  • Resolve topological plates and query their boundary sections (ridges/subductions)
  • Calculate velocities
  • Distance between geometries (region-of-interest queries)
  • Geometry queries (length, point-in-polygon, area, centroid, tessellate, interpolate, join, partition)

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 Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol 44, 107-138. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-060115-012211.

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…


Opal exploration research recognised as outstanding highlight

Recent EarthByte research on opal exploration was recognised as an outstanding highlight and reflects the work of many of the group including, Andrew Merdith, Tom Landgrebe, Adriana Dutkiewicz and Patrice Rey. Congratulations to all of the contributors to the project and specifically to John Cannon and Michael Chin, the GPlates developers!

Geoscientific Instrumentation Methods and Data Systems – The GPlates geological information model and markup language

Qin, X., Müller, R. D., Cannon, J., Landgrebe, T. C. W., Heine, C., Watson, R. J., & Turner, M. (2012). The GPlates geological information model and markup language. Geosci. Instrum. Methods Data Syst. Discuss, 2, 365-428. doi:10.5194/gi-1-111-2012. Download the paper – pdf

6th eResearch Australia Conference – An open innovation platform for deep time spatio-temporal knowledge-discovery

Müller, R. D., Cannon, J., Landgrebe, T. C. W., & Qin, X. An open innovation platform for deep time spatio-temporal knowledge-discovery. In 6th eResearch Australasia Conference, Sydney (Vol. 28). 28 Oct-1 Nov 2012. Download the paper – pdf

Cambridge University Press – Next-generation plate-tectonic reconstructions using GPlates

Boyden, J., Müller, R. D., Gurnis, M., Torsvik, T. H., Clark, J. A., Turner, M., … & Cannon, J. S. (2011). Next-generation plate-tectonic reconstructions using GPlates. Geoinformatics: Cyberinfrastructure for the Solid Earth Sciences. Keller, G. R., & Baru, C. (Eds.). (2011). Geoinformatics: cyberinfrastructure for the solid Earth sciences. Cambridge University Press. Download the paper – pdf