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…

Elements: Carbonatites and global tectonics

Carbonatites have formed for at least the past three billion years. But over the past 700 My the incidence of carbonatites have significantly increased. We compile an updated list of 609 carbonatite occurrences and plot 387 of known age on plate tectonic reconstructions. Plate reconstructions from Devonian to present show that 75% of carbonatites are … Read more…

Nature Geoscience: Dynamics of the abrupt change in Pacific Plate motion around 50 million years ago

A drastic change in plate tectonics and mantle convection occurred around 50 Ma as exemplified by the prominent Hawaiian– Emperor Bend. Both an abrupt Pacific Plate motion change and a change in mantle plume dynamics have been proposed to account for the Hawaiian–Emperor Bend, but debates surround the relative contribution of the two mechanisms. Here … Read more…

PNAS: High 3He/4He in central Panama reveals a distal connection to the Galapagos plume

Significance We report the discovery of anomalously high 3He/4He in “cold” geothermal fluids of central Panama, far from any active volcanoes. Combined with independent constraints from lava geochemistry, mantle source geochemical anomalies in Central America require a Galapagos plume contribution that is not derived from hotspot track recycling. Instead, these signals likely originate from large-scale … Read more…

World Economic Forum: Watch how today’s continents were formed over one billion years – in just 40 seconds

The plate tectonic theory says that Earth’s surface is made up of slabs of rock that are slowly shifting right under our feet. Because of this constant movement, today’s Earth looks a lot different from what it did millions of years ago. In 1912, German scientist Alfred Wegener proposed that Earth’s continents once formed a … Read more…

Kinematics and extent of the Piemont–Liguria Basin – implications for subduction processes in the Alps

Assessing the size of a former ocean of which only remnants are found in mountain belts is challenging but crucial to understanding subduction and exhumation processes. Here we present new constraints on the opening and width of the Piemont–Liguria (PL) Ocean, known as the Alpine Tethys together with the Valais Basin. We use a regional … Read more…