Science.gov

Sample records for plate tectonic events

  1. Earthquakes and plate tectonics.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Spall, H.

    1982-01-01

    Earthquakes occur at the following three kinds of plate boundary: ocean ridges where the plates are pulled apart, margins where the plates scrape past one another, and margins where one plate is thrust under the other. Thus, we can predict the general regions on the earth's surface where we can expect large earthquakes in the future. We know that each year about 140 earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater will occur within this area which is 10% of the earth's surface. But on a worldwide basis we cannot say with much accuracy when these events will occur. The reason is that the processes in plate tectonics have been going on for millions of years. Averaged over this interval, plate motions amount to several mm per year. But at any instant in geologic time, for example the year 1982, we do not know, exactly where we are in the worldwide cycle of strain build-up and strain release. Only by monitoring the stress and strain in small areas, for instance, the San Andreas fault, in great detail can we hope to predict when renewed activity in that part of the plate tectonics arena is likely to take place. -from Author

  2. Earthquakes and plate tectonics

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Spall, H.

    1977-01-01

    An explanation is to be found in plate tectonics, a concept which has revolutionized thinking in the Earth sciences in the last 10 years. The theory of plate tectonics combines many of the ideas about continental drift (originally proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener in Germany) and sea-floor spreading (suggested originally by Harry Hess of Princeton University). 

  3. Permian and Pennsylvanian tectonic events in eastern California in relation to major plate motions

    SciTech Connect

    Stevens, C.H.; Sedlock, R. ); Stone, P. )

    1993-04-01

    Northwest-trending basins cutting across older northeast-trending facies belts in eastern California opened by Middle Pennsylvanian time and continued to develop and expand into the Early Permian. Basin development was accompanied by east-vergent thrust-faulting in the Early Permian and was followed by development of northeast-trending folds and regional uplift in middle and Late Permian time. These events have been considered products of long-tern sinistral truncation of the western North American continental margin. Later, in the Late Permian, extensional faulting created small northeast-trending basins in which deposition of terrestrial and shallow-marine rocks occurred. The author consider all late Paleozoic tectonism in eastern California to have been driven by plate interactions along the western margin of North America and to be only indirectly related to the late Paleozoic collision between North America and Gondwana. They propose that the truncated part of North America was part of the Paleo-pacific plate. In Nevada the margin of this plate, along which the Havallah assemblage eventually was emplaced, was convergent, but in California the margin bent sharply and became transform. This fault continued as the Mojave-Sonora mega-shear into Mexico where the oceanic part of the Paleopacific plate was subducted under Gondwana, forming an extensive arc now represented by rocks in S. America.

  4. Plate tectonics: Metamorphic myth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Korenaga, Jun

    2016-01-01

    Clear evidence for subduction-induced metamorphism, and thus the operation of plate tectonics on the ancient Earth has been lacking. Theoretical calculations indicate that we may have been looking for something that cannot exist.

  5. Tectonic Plate Movement.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Landalf, Helen

    1998-01-01

    Presents an activity that employs movement to enable students to understand concepts related to plate tectonics. Argues that movement brings topics to life in a concrete way and helps children retain knowledge. (DDR)

  6. Earth's Decelerating Tectonic Plates

    SciTech Connect

    Forte, A M; Moucha, R; Rowley, D B; Quere, S; Mitrovica, J X; Simmons, N A; Grand, S P

    2008-08-22

    Space geodetic and oceanic magnetic anomaly constraints on tectonic plate motions are employed to determine a new global map of present-day rates of change of plate velocities. This map shows that Earth's largest plate, the Pacific, is presently decelerating along with several other plates in the Pacific and Indo-Atlantic hemispheres. These plate decelerations contribute to an overall, globally averaged slowdown in tectonic plate speeds. The map of plate decelerations provides new and unique constraints on the dynamics of time-dependent convection in Earth's mantle. We employ a recently developed convection model constrained by seismic, geodynamic and mineral physics data to show that time-dependent changes in mantle buoyancy forces can explain the deceleration of the major plates in the Pacific and Indo-Atlantic hemispheres.

  7. Plate tectonics, damage and inheritance.

    PubMed

    Bercovici, David; Ricard, Yanick

    2014-04-24

    The initiation of plate tectonics on Earth is a critical event in our planet's history. The time lag between the first proto-subduction (about 4 billion years ago) and global tectonics (approximately 3 billion years ago) suggests that plates and plate boundaries became widespread over a period of 1 billion years. The reason for this time lag is unknown but fundamental to understanding the origin of plate tectonics. Here we suggest that when sufficient lithospheric damage (which promotes shear localization and long-lived weak zones) combines with transient mantle flow and migrating proto-subduction, it leads to the accumulation of weak plate boundaries and eventually to fully formed tectonic plates driven by subduction alone. We simulate this process using a grain evolution and damage mechanism with a composite rheology (which is compatible with field and laboratory observations of polycrystalline rocks), coupled to an idealized model of pressure-driven lithospheric flow in which a low-pressure zone is equivalent to the suction of convective downwellings. In the simplest case, for Earth-like conditions, a few successive rotations of the driving pressure field yield relic damaged weak zones that are inherited by the lithospheric flow to form a nearly perfect plate, with passive spreading and strike-slip margins that persist and localize further, even though flow is driven only by subduction. But for hotter surface conditions, such as those on Venus, accumulation and inheritance of damage is negligible; hence only subduction zones survive and plate tectonics does not spread, which corresponds to observations. After plates have developed, continued changes in driving forces, combined with inherited damage and weak zones, promote increased tectonic complexity, such as oblique subduction, strike-slip boundaries that are subparallel to plate motion, and spalling of minor plates. PMID:24717430

  8. The Plate Tectonics Project

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hein, Annamae J.

    2011-01-01

    The Plate Tectonics Project is a multiday, inquiry-based unit that facilitates students as self-motivated learners. Reliable Web sites are offered to assist with lessons, and a summative rubric is used to facilitate the holistic nature of the project. After each topic (parts of the Earth, continental drift, etc.) is covered, the students will…

  9. Martian plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sleep, N. H.

    1994-03-01

    The northern lowlands of Mars have been produced by plate tectonics. Preexisting old thick highland crust was subducted, while seafloor spreading produced thin lowland crust during late Noachian and Early Hesperian time. In the preferred reconstruction, a breakup margin extended north of Cimmeria Terra between Daedalia Planum and Isidis Planitia where the highland-lowland transition is relatively simple. South dipping subduction occured beneath Arabia Terra and east dipping subduction beneath Tharsis Montes and Tempe Terra. Lineations associated with Gordii Dorsum are attributed to ridge-parallel structures, while Phelegra Montes and Scandia Colles are interpreted as transfer-parallel structures or ridge-fault-fault triple junction tracks. Other than for these few features, there is little topographic roughness in the lowlands. Seafloor spreading, if it occurred, must have been relatively rapid. Quantitative estimates of spreading rate are obtained by considering the physics of seafloor spreading in the lower (approx. 0.4 g) gravity of Mars, the absence of vertical scarps from age differences across fracture zones, and the smooth axial topography. Crustal thickness at a given potential temperature in the mantle source region scales inversely with gravity. Thus, the velocity of the rough-smooth transition for axial topography also scales inversely with gravity. Plate reorganizations where young crust becomes difficult to subduct are another constraint on spreading age. Plate tectonics, if it occurred, dominated the thermal and stress history of the planet. A geochemical implication is that the lower gravity of Mars allows deeper hydrothermal circulation through cracks and hence more hydration of oceanic crust so that more water is easily subducted than on the Earth. Age and structural relationships from photogeology as well as median wavelength gravity anomalies across the now dead breakup and subduction margins are the data most likely to test and modify hypotheses

  10. Episodic plate tectonics on Venus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Turcotte, Donald

    1992-01-01

    Studies of impact craters on Venus from the Magellan images have placed important constraints on surface volcanism. Some 840 impact craters have been identified with diameters ranging from 2 to 280 km. Correlations of this impact flux with craters on the Moon, Earth, and Mars indicate a mean surface age of 0.5 +/- 0.3 Ga. Another important observation is that 52 percent of the craters are slightly fractured and only 4.5 percent are embayed by lava flows. These observations led researchers to hypothesize that a pervasive resurfacing event occurred about 500 m.y. ago and that relatively little surface volcanism has occurred since. Other researchers have pointed out that a global resurfacing event that ceased about 500 MYBP is consistent with the results given by a recent study. These authors carried out a series of numerical calculations of mantle convection in Venus yielding thermal evolution results. Their model considered crustal recycling and gave rapid planetary cooling. They, in fact, suggested that prior to 500 MYBP plate tectonics was active in Venus and since 500 MYBP the lithosphere has stabilized and only hot-spot volcanism has reached the surface. We propose an alternative hypothesis for the inferred cessation of surface volcanism on Venus. We hypothesize that plate tectonics on Venus is episodic. Periods of rapid plate tectonics result in high rates of subduction that cool the interior resulting in more sluggish mantle convection.

  11. Plate tectonics conserves angular momentum

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bowin, C.

    2009-03-01

    A new combined understanding of plate tectonics, Earth internal structure, and the role of impulse in deformation of the Earth's crust is presented. Plate accelerations and decelerations have been revealed by iterative filtering of the quaternion history for the Euler poles that define absolute plate motion history for the past 68 million years, and provide an unprecedented precision for plate angular rotation variations with time at 2-million year intervals. Stage poles represent the angular rotation of a plate's motion between adjacent Euler poles, and from which the maximum velocity vector for a plate can be determined. The consistent maximum velocity variations, in turn, yield consistent estimates of plate accelerations and decelerations. The fact that the Pacific plate was shown to accelerate and decelerate, implied that conservation of plate tectonic angular momentum must be globally conserved, and that is confirmed by the results shown here (total angular momentum ~1.4 E+27 kgm2s-1). Accordingly, if a plate decelerates, other plates must increase their angular momentums to compensate. In addition, the azimuth of the maximum velocity vectors yields clues as to why the "bend" in the Emperor-Hawaiian seamount trend occurred near 46 Myr. This report summarizes processing results for 12 of the 14 major tectonic plates of the Earth (except for the Juan de Fuca and Philippine plates). Plate accelerations support the contention that plate tectonics is a product of torques that most likely are sustained by the sinking of positive density anomalies due to phase changes in subducted gabbroic lithosphere at depth in the upper lower mantle (above 1200 km depth). The tectonic plates are pulled along by the sinking of these positive mass anomalies, rather than moving at near constant velocity on the crests of convection cells driven by rising heat. These results imply that spreading centers are primarily passive reactive features, and fracture zones (and wedge-shaped sites

  12. Tectonics of the Easter plate

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Engeln, J. F.; Stein, S.

    1984-01-01

    A new model for the Easter plate is presented in which rift propagation has resulted in the formation of a rigid plate between the propagating and dying ridges. The distribution of earthquakes, eleven new focal mechanisms, and existing bathymetric and magnetic data are used to describe the tectonics of this area. Both the Easter-Nazca and Easter-Pacific Euler poles are sufficiently close to the Easter plate to cause rapid changes in rates and directions of motion along the boundaries. The east and west boundaries are propagating and dying ridges; the southwest boundary is a slow-spreading ridge and the northern boundary is a complex zone of convergent and transform motion. The Easter plate may reflect the tectonics of rift propagation on a large scale, where rigid plate tectonics requires boundary reorientation. Simple schematic models to illustrate the general features and processes which occur at plates resulting from large-scale rift propagation are used.

  13. Plate tectonics on Venus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anderson, D. L.

    1981-04-01

    The high surface temperature of Venus implies a permanently buoyant lithosphere and a thick basaltic crust. Terrestrial-style tectonics with deep subduction and crustal recycling is not possible. Overthickened basaltic crust partially melts instead of converting to eclogite. Because mantle magmas do not have convenient access to the surface the Ar-40 abundance in the atmosphere should be low. Venus may provide an analog to Archean tectonics on the earth.

  14. Plate tectonics on Venus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Anderson, D. L.

    1981-01-01

    The high surface temperature of Venus implies a permanently buoyant lithosphere and a thick basaltic crust. Terrestrial-style tectonics with deep subduction and crustal recycling is not possible. Overthickened basaltic crust partially melts instead of converting to eclogite. Because mantle magmas do not have convenient access to the surface the Ar-40 abundance in the atmosphere should be low. Venus may provide an analog to Archean tectonics on the earth.

  15. Accelerated plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Anderson, D L

    1975-03-21

    The concept of a stressed elastic lithospheric plate riding on a viscous asthenosphere is used to calculate the recurrence interval of great earthquakes at convergent plate boundaries, the separation of decoupling and lithospheric earthquakes, and the migration pattern of large earthquakes along an arc. It is proposed that plate motions accelerate after great decoupling earthquakes and that most of the observed plate motions occur during short periods of time, separated by periods of relative quiescence. PMID:17799689

  16. Origin of Small Tectonic Plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mallard, C.; Coltice, N.; Seton, M.; Müller, D.; Tackley, P.

    2015-12-01

    The plate tectonic theory allowed to split the Earth surface into 6 (Le Pichon 1968) to 52 tectonic plates (Bird 2003). These plates are separated into two groups: the first of 7 large plates and the second of numerous smaller plates (Morra et al 2013). Previous studies using the reconstruction of the past 200 My, suggest that the size of large plates is driven by mantle flow. But the tools employed are descriptive (Morra et al 2013, Sornette and Pisarenko 2003), hence ignoring forces and physical principles within the lithosphere and the mantle. The processes at the origin of small plates remain unknown. We developed a new approach to explain the plate sizes. We demonstrate that the physics of convection drives it. We applied plate tectonics theory on 3D spherical convection models generating plate-like motions, which give access to a complete survey of data: velocities, viscosity and heat flow. Our data show that (1) the large plates depend on the dominating scale of the convective flow due to the initiation or the shutdown of subductions; (2) the smaller plates are generated thanks to large variability of regional stresses along subduction zone by slab pull and suction influenced by the geometry of trenches. Our results are consistent with the quick reorganizations of back-arc basins occuring synchronously with the modification of subduction zones geometry around the Pacific plate (Sdrolias et al 2004). Hence, we conclude that (1) the decreasing number of small plates in the plate reconstructions back in time is an artifact induced by their short lifetime, that is why they are artificially ignored; (2) the geometry of past trenches is simplified leading to an underestimation of the length of subduction zones.

  17. Plate tectonics conserves angular momentum

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bowin, C.

    2010-03-01

    A new combined understanding of plate tectonics, Earth internal structure, and the role of impulse in deformation of the Earth's crust is presented. Plate accelerations and decelerations have been revealed by iterative filtering of the quaternion history for the Euler poles that define absolute plate motion history for the past 68 million years, and provide an unprecedented precision for plate angular rotation variations with time at 2-million year intervals. Stage poles represent the angular rotation of a plate's motion between adjacent Euler poles, and from which the maximum velocity vector for a plate can be determined. The consistent maximum velocity variations, in turn, yield consistent estimates of plate accelerations and decelerations. The fact that the Pacific plate was shown to accelerate and decelerate, implied that conservation of plate tectonic angular momentum must be globally conserved, and that is confirmed by the results shown here (total angular momentum ~1.4+27 kg m2 s-1). Accordingly, if a plate decelerates, other plates must increase their angular momentums to compensate. In addition, the azimuth of the maximum velocity vectors yields clues as to why the "bend" in the Emperor-Hawaiian seamount trend occurred near 46 Myr. This report summarizes processing results for 12 of the 14 major tectonic plates of the Earth (except for the Juan de Fuca and Philippine plates). Plate accelerations support the contention that plate tectonics is a product of torques that most likely are sustained by the sinking of positive density anomalies revealed by geoid anomalies of the degree 4-10 packet of the Earth's spherical harmonic coefficients. These linear positive geoid anomalies underlie plate subduction zones and are presumed due to phase changes in subducted gabbroic lithosphere at depth in the upper lower mantle (above 1200 km depth). The tectonic plates are pulled along by the sinking of these positive mass anomalies, rather than moving at near constant

  18. Tectonic Evolution of the Jurassic Pacific Plate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nakanishi, M.; Ishihara, T.

    2015-12-01

    We present the tectonic evolution of the Jurassic Pacific plate based on magnetic anomly lineations and abyssal hills. The Pacific plate is the largest oceanic plate on Earth. It was born as a microplate aroud the Izanagi-Farallon-Phoenix triple junction about 192 Ma, Early Jurassic [Nakanishi et al., 1992]. The size of the Pacific plate at 190 Ma was nearly half that of the present Easter or Juan Fernandez microplates in the East Pacific Rise [Martinez et at, 1991; Larson et al., 1992]. The plate boundary surrounding the Pacific plate from Early Jurassic to Early Cretaceous involved the four triple junctions among Pacific, Izanagi, Farallon, and Phoenix plates. The major tectonic events as the formation of oceanic plateaus and microplates during the period occurred in the vicinity of the triple junctions [e.g., Nakanishi and Winterer, 1998; Nakanishi et al., 1999], implying that the study of the triple junctions is indispensable for understanding the tectonic evolution of the Pacific plate. Previous studies indicate instability of the configuration of the triple junctions from Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous (155-125 Ma). On the other hand, the age of the birth of the Pacific plate was determined assuming that all triple junctions had kept their configurations for about 30 m.y. [Nakanishi et al., 1992] because of insufficient information of the tectonic history of the Pacific plate before Late Jurassic.Increase in the bathymetric and geomagnetic data over the past two decades enables us to reveal the tectonic evolution of the Pacific-Izanagi-Farallon triple junction before Late Jurassic. Our detailed identication of magnetic anomaly lineations exposes magnetic bights before anomaly M25. We found the curved abyssal hills originated near the triple junction, which trend is parallel to magnetic anomaly lineations. These results imply that the configuration of the Pacific-Izanagi-Farallon triple junction had been RRR before Late Jurassic.

  19. MACMA: a Virtual Lab for Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grigne, C.; Combes, M.; Tisseau, C.

    2013-12-01

    boundaries is a feature that clearly seems interesting to students. They are used to see dynamic representations of continental drift, but this does not include the dynamics of the oceanic lithosphere and the corresponding fluctuations in seafloor age distribution. The 2-D geometry of the simulator is a simplification that actually brings a clearer view of plate boundary creations, migrations, and collisions, together with global plate tectonics reorganization events.

  20. Plate Tectonics: A Paradigm under Threat.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Pratt, David

    2000-01-01

    Discusses the challenges confronting plate tectonics. Presents evidence that contradicts continental drift, seafloor spreading, and subduction. Reviews problems posed by vertical tectonic movements. (Contains 242 references.) (DDR)

  1. Plate tectonics hiati as the cause of global glaciations: 1. Early Proterozoic events and the rise of oxygen

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Osmaston, M. F.

    2003-04-01

    Plate tectonics is the main way in which the Earth's internal heat is brought to the surface and lost, so it seems that global tectonics should not stop and start. Consequently the long-standing fact that, globally, no orogenic granitoid or greenstone U-Pb ages have been found in the 2.45--2.22 Ga interval has been attributed to defective sampling. Here I argue that this interval was indeed a prolonged hiatus in plate tectonics, being the first of two. The other, but differently caused, was in the late Proterozoic and is the topic of Part 2. The feature common to both hiati, and relevant to global glaciation, is that mid-ocean ridges (MORs) die and subside, potentially lowering sea-level by several kilometres, causing loss of atmospheric CO2 by weathering and an increase in planetary albedo. For the origin of the first hiatus we must first go back to formation of the core. The current iron-percolation model is invalidated by the fact that its corollary, the arrival of a water and siderophile-rich "late veneer" at the end of percolation, would be required to arrive some 60 Ma after the Moon, which never had a late veneer, was already in Earth orbit. The available alternative [1] would have given the early Earth a wet and low-viscosity convecting mantle able to dispose of the early heat with high efficiency; so that by 2.8 Ga MORs began to deepen, exposing cratons to massive weathering which lowered atmospheric CO2. The well-documented late Archaean acceleration of crustal addition to cratons, or, more precisely, of TTG-granitoid intrusion of greenstone belts, is also, paradoxically, evidence of waning mantle heat. Such wide-belt intrusion, grouped into quasi-coeval 'events', are examples of post-subduction magmatism (PSM), marking interruption of flat-slab subduction under a greenstone belt when a microcraton arrived [2]. On each occasion the TTG, derived from the subducted and reheated oceanic crust, advected subducting-plate heat to the surface that would

  2. Plate Tectonics: From Plate Boundary Zone Tectonics To Extensive Intraplate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ishikawa, M.

    2004-12-01

    mantle is about 15x1012N/m. The weakening of wet mantle, therefore, result in the dramatic reduction of cumulative strength of lithosphere from 17x1012N/m (dry) to 3x1012N/m (wet). Forces of ridge push appear to be in the range of 3.9x1012N/m. Ridge push is probably the principal driving force for intraplate deformation after amalgamation of continent. Dry upper mantle carries much of the ridge push force. The magnitude of cumulative lithospheric strength is much higher than that of wet lithosphere and far exceeds the ridge push forces. In contrast, the cumulative strength of wet lithosphere is comparable to the ridge push force, suggesting ridge push forces are enough to cause intraplate deformation of wet continental plate. I infer that slab dehydration along numerous subduction zones during collision of microcontinent and island arcs at late Paleozoic/Mesozoic caused extensive wetting of uppermost mantle beneath Asia, resulting in extensive weakening of plate. Since Proterozoic/Phanerozoic boundary, collision events such as East African orogeny, Variscan orogeny, Alpine orogeny and Himalayan orogeny have involved relatively extensive intraplatel tectonics in Gondwana supercontinent, Pangea supercontinent, Europe continent and Asia continent respectively whereas Archean/Proterozoic continental collisions give rise to plate boundary zone tectonics. It probably reflects initiation of return flow of H2O component into mantle at about 750 million years ago (Maruyama, 1999). I conclude that fragile continental plate have been established during late Proterozoic to Phanerozoic assembly of continent, and extensive intraplate tectonics started to operate on earth at Proterozoic/Phanerozoic boundary.

  3. Petroleum occurrences and plate tectonics

    SciTech Connect

    Olenin, V.B.; Sokolov, B.A.

    1983-01-01

    This paper analyzes the mechanisms of petroleum formation and petroleum accumulation proposed in recent years by some Russian and foreign investigators from the viewpoint of the new global or plate tectonics. On the basis of discussion and the facts, the authors conclude that the mechanisms proposed are in contradiction to reality and their use in practical application is at least premature.

  4. Jadeitites and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harlow, George E.; Tsujimori, Tatsuki; Sorensen, Sorena S.

    2015-05-01

    Jadeitite is a relatively rare, very tough rock composed predominantly of jadeite and typically found associated with tectonic blocks of high-pressure/low-temperature metabasaltic rocks (e.g., eclogite, blueschist) in exhumed serpentinite-matrix mélanges. Studies over the past ˜20 years have interpreted jadeitite either as the direct hydrous fluid precipitate from subduction channel dewatering into the overlying mantle wedge or as the metasomatic replacement by such fluids of oceanic plagiogranite, graywacke, or metabasite along the channel margin. Thus, jadeitites directly sample and record fluid transport in the subduction factory and provide a window into this geochemical process that is critical to a major process in the Earth system. They record the remarkable transport of large ion lithophile elements, such as Li, Ba, Sr, and Pb, as well as elements generally considered more refractory, such as U, Th, Zr, and Hf. Jadeitite is also the precious form of jade, utilized since antiquity in the form of tools, adornments, and symbols of prestige.

  5. Plate tectonics, habitability and life

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spohn, Tilman; Breuer, Doris

    2016-04-01

    The role of plate tectonics in defining habitability of terrestrial planets is being increasingly discussed (e.g., Elkins-Tanton, 2015). Plate tectonics is a significantly evolved concept with a large variety of aspects. In the present context, cycling of material between near surface and mantle reservoirs is most important. But increased heat transport through mixing of cold lithosphere with the deep interior and formation of continental crust may also matter. An alternative mechanism of material cycling between these reservoirs is hot-spot volcanism combined with crust delamination. Hot-spot volcanism will transport volatiles to the atmosphere while delamination will mix crust, possibly altered by sedimentation and chemical reactions, with the mantle. The mechanism works as long as the stagnant lithosphere plate has not grown thicker than the crust and as long as volcanic material is added onto the crust. Thermal evolution studies suggest that the mechanism could work for the first 1-2 Ga of planetary evolution. The efficiency of the mechanism is limited by the ratio of extrusive to intrusive volcanism, which is thought to be less than 0.25. Plate tectonics would certainly have an advantage by working even for more evolved planets. A simple, most-used concept of habitability requires the thermodynamic stability of liquid water on the surface of a planet. Cycling of CO2between the atmosphere, oceans and interior through subduction and surface volcanism is an important element of the carbonate-silicate cycle, a thermostat feedback cycle that will keep the atmosphere from entering into a runaway greenhouse. Calculations for a model Earth lacking plate tectonics but degassing CO2, N, and H2O to form a surface ocean and a secondary atmosphere (Tosi et al, 2016) suggest that liquid water can be maintained on the surface for 4.5Ga. The model planet would then qualify as habitable. It is conceivable that the CO2 buffering capability of its ocean together with silicate

  6. When Did Plate Tectonics Begin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brown, M.

    2015-12-01

    Present-day plate tectonics on Earth is characterized by asymmetric (one-sided) subduction, but how do we recognize the imprint of subduction in the geologic record? How do we weigh global (commonly younger) vs local (commonly older) datasets or distinguish initiation from episodic from continuous subduction? How reliable are data gaps? Characteristics of the Paleozoic record of subduction include calc-alkaline magmatism, blueschist/UHP metamorphism and collisional orogenesis, and ophiolites as representatives of former ocean lithosphere. Are these characteristic rocks preserved in Proterozoic, Archean and Hadean crust? Does a hotter mantle, higher heat production and weaker lithosphere modify or eliminate these features? What preceded subduction and how do we recognize that regime? Are rock associations or geochemical fingerprints reliable? Does reworking and overprinting modify geochemical fingerprints? Proposals for the start of plate tectonics have been based on: persistence of isotope anomalies/fractionated chemical domains in the mantle; changes in chemistry of magmatic rocks, rates of crustal growth vs reworking, and sites of growth; the metamorphic record, particularly the first appearance of contrasting thermal gradients or eclogite (including evidence from mineral inclusions in diamonds) or UHP metamorphic rocks; stabilization of cratonic lithosphere and formation of supercratons, and the beginning of the Proterozoic supercontinent cycle; the end of the flat Earth, emergence of continents, development of significant topography, changes in the style of orogeny and the rise in atmospheric oxygen; and, the appearance of passive margins and changes in the style of sedimentation. Estimates of the timing have varied from the Hadean to Neoproterozoic. I will summarize evidence for a growing consensus that the late Mesoarchean to early Paleoproterozoic was a 700 Myr long period of transition to continuous (?) subduction and global (?) mobile-lid plate tectonics.

  7. Plate Tectonics: A Framework for Understanding Our Living Planet.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Achache, Jose

    1987-01-01

    Discusses some of the events leading to the development of the theory of plate tectonics. Describes how seismic, volcanic, and tectonic features observed at the surface of the planet are now seen as a consequence of intense internal activity, and makes suggestions about their further investigation. (TW)

  8. Plate Tectonic Cycle. K-6 Science Curriculum.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Blueford, J. R.; And Others

    Plate Tectonics Cycle is one of the units of a K-6 unified science curriculum program. The unit consists of four organizing sub-themes: (1) volcanoes (covering formation, distribution, and major volcanic groups); (2) earthquakes (with investigations on wave movements, seismograms and sub-suface earth currents); (3) plate tectonics (providing maps…

  9. On the origin and tectonic significance of the intra-plate events of Grenvillian-type age in South America: A discussion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cordani, Umberto G.; Fraga, Leda Maria; Reis, Nelson; Tassinari, Colombo C. G.; Brito-Neves, Benjamim B.

    2010-01-01

    The objective of this article is to examine the available evidence of intra-plate tectonic episodes of "Grenvillian-type age", affecting the South-American continent, assessing their possible causal correlation with the tectonic processes occurring within the orogenic belts active at their margins. For the Amazonian Craton, the active margin is represented by the Rondonian-San Ignacio and Sunsas belts. However, active margins of similar age are not recognized for the São Francisco and the Rio de La Plata Cratons, and the intra-plate events over them could be reflections of the Kibaran, Irumide or Namaqua orogenic collisions in Africa. Grenvillian-type age events over the Amazonian Craton can be described in four different aspects: shearing and tectonic reactivation along zones of weakness, cratogenic granitic magmatism, alkaline ring complexes, and pervasive regional heating in some localized regions. The first of them may reflect the compressional stresses at active margins, however the others may have different origins. Within the type-region of the K'Mudku tectono thermal episode, mylonites and pseudotachylites cut across the regional granitoid and metamorphic rocks. These shear belts developed under low-to-moderate temperature conditions, that induced resetting of K-Ar and Rb-Sr mineral ages. In the São Francisco Craton, extensional and compressional events of Grenvillian-type age are well registered by the structural features exhibited by the sedimentary rocks of the Espinhaço Supergroup. For example, in Bahia state, an Appalachian-style structure is observed, with large synclines and anticlines extending along hundreds of kilometers. The major difference between the Amazonian and the Congo-São Francisco Cratons is related to heat originated from the Earth's interior. Amazonia exhibits very large areas heated up to 350-400 °C, where the K'Mudku thermo-tectonic episodes were detected. In addition, Amazonia comprises a large amount of cratogenic granitic

  10. Petrologic implications of plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Yoder, H S

    1971-07-30

    Petrologists can make significant contributions to the plate tectonic concept. Fixing the stability fields of the principal rock types involved will provide the limits of pressure and temperature of the various environments. Experimental determination of the partition coefficients of the trace elements will be helpful. Studies of the partial melting behavior of possible parental materials in the absence and presence of water, especially the undersaturated region, will contribute to the understanding of magma production. Experimental observations on the rheological properties of the peridotites below and just above the solidus will lead to a better evaluation of the convective mechanism. Measurement of the fundamental properties of rocks, such as the density of solids and liquids at high pressures and temperatures, would contribute to understanding the concepts of diapiric rise, magma segregation, and the low-velocity zone. Broader rock sampling of the oceanic areas of all environments will do much to define the petrologic provinces. The field petrologist specializing in the Paleozoic regions and Precambrian shields can contribute by examining those regions for old plate boundaries and devising new criteria for their recognition. PMID:17770454

  11. Continental tectonics in the aftermath of plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Molnar, Peter

    1988-01-01

    It is shown that the basic tenet of plate tectonics, rigid-body movements of large plates of lithosphere, fails to apply to continental interiors. There, buoyant continental crust can detach from the underlying mantle to form mountain ranges and broad zones of diffuse tectonic activity. The role of crustal blocks and of the detachment of crustal fragments in this process is discussed. Future areas of investigation are addressed.

  12. The jubilee of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glen, William; Frankel, Henry

    What should one expect at a birthday gathering for an idea that suffered disdain from birth, but was later transformed overnight into the ruling global theory of the Earth sciences? Tom Hilde and Richard Carlson (Texas A&M University, College Station, Tex.), under the auspices of the Texas A&M Geodynamics Research Institute, with the cooperation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) , the Inter-Union Commission on the Lithosphere, and the U.S. Geodynamics Committee, convened an unprecedented gathering of the makers of Earth science's modern revolution and a large number of their foremost disciples at Texas A&M April 22- 24 , 1987.Those who missed the show will have to read for weeks to learn of the panoply of profound new developments across the broad front of research bearing on plate tectonics, but those with an interest in their own intellectual genealogy will not be able to recapture the sense of historic moment that pervaded Rudder Tower Conference Center as many of the old revolutionaries opened windows on the past. Of the 20 key participants or originators who were invited to speak, all but four sent abstracts. Pleased and surprised by this strong response, the convenors found themselves in the rather difficult position of having to limit the number of talks by nonoriginators to 20. The unique assembly also provided the first opportunity to video interviews with more than a dozen of the originators.

  13. Simulation of Evolutive Plate Tectonics: the Size of Plates Depends on Mantle Temperature

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grigne, C.; Combes, M.

    2013-12-01

    We use a dynamic model of plate tectonics based on a multiagent approach, in a 2D cylindrical geometry (Combes et al., 2012), to study how evolutive plate tectonics affect the long term thermal state of the mantle, and in return, to analyze the relationship between the mantle mean temperature and the geometry of plate tectonics. Our model accounts for first-order features of plate tectonics: (a) all plates on Earth do not have the same size, (b) subduction zones are asymmetric, (c) plates driven by subducting slabs and upper plates do not exhibit the same velocities, and (d) plate boundaries are mobile, can collide, merge and disappear, and new plate boundaries can be created. We show that when processes for plate boundary creation (subduction initiation and ridge creation) are relying on a brittle criterion, namely when a fixed yield strength has to be reached, the average size of plates adapts to the mantle thermal state: longer plates are obtained for a hotter mantle, which implies a maximum seafloor age that remains fairly high throughout Earth's thermal history and limits mantle heat loss. This is consistent with petrological and geochemical constraints on Earth's cooling history. Important fluctuations in the mantle heat flux and velocities of plates are obtained on a timescale of a few hundred Myr, but on the long term, the relationship between the average wavelength of plate tectonics and mantle temperature can be explained by a simple scaling law. Recent compilations of geological records infer that passive margins had longer lifespans in the past (e.g. Bradley 2008; 2011), which has been linked to 'sluggish' plate tectonics and slow plates in the Precambrian (Korenaga, 2006). Our simulations outputs include lifespans of tectonic entities such as passive margins, as well as statistical data about events of plates reorganizations. We obtain faster plates in the past than at present day, but counterintuitively we also observe a low episodicity of tectonic

  14. How mantle slabs drive plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Conrad, Clinton P; Lithgow-Bertelloni, Carolina

    2002-10-01

    The gravitational pull of subducted slabs is thought to drive the motions of Earth's tectonic plates, but the coupling between slabs and plates is not well established. If a slab is mechanically attached to a subducting plate, it can exert a direct pull on the plate. Alternatively, a detached slab may drive a plate by exciting flow in the mantle that exerts a shear traction on the base of the plate. From the geologic history of subduction, we estimated the relative importance of "pull" versus "suction" for the present-day plates. Observed plate motions are best predicted if slabs in the upper mantle are attached to plates and generate slab pull forces that account for about half of the total driving force on plates. Slabs in the lower mantle are supported by viscous mantle forces and drive plates through slab suction. PMID:12364804

  15. Ridge push engine of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Swedan, N. H.

    2015-07-01

    Convection of the upper mantle drives the tectonic plates. This convection is a thermodynamic cycle that exchanges heat and mechanical work between mantle and tectonic plates. Thermodynamics and observations indicate that the energy of the geological activities resulting from plate tectonics is equal to the latent heat of melting, calculated at mantle's pressure, of the new ocean crust regenerated at midocean ridges. This energy varies with the temperature of ocean floor, which is correlated with surface temperature. The main objective of this manuscript is to demonstrate that plate tectonics is a thermodynamic engine and can be calculated as such. Unlike existing tectonic models, the thermodynamic model is very sensitive to variations of the temperature of ocean floor, which is correlated with surface temperature. Therefore, the observed increase of geological activities can be projected with surface temperature rise. Other objectives of the manuscript are to calculate the force that drives the tectonic plates, estimate the energy released, and validate the calculations based on experiments and observations. In addition to the scientific merit of projecting the geological activities, a good projection can have a broader impact at the societal and economical levels. Investment and insurance related decisions are affected by climate change, and our ability to project the geological activities is of paramount importance for the economy and public safety. This work can thus provide tools to assess the risks and hazards associated with the trend of geological activities with surface temperature rise.

  16. Spreading continents kick-started plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Rey, Patrice F; Coltice, Nicolas; Flament, Nicolas

    2014-09-18

    Stresses acting on cold, thick and negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere are thought to be crucial to the initiation of subduction and the operation of plate tectonics, which characterizes the present-day geodynamics of the Earth. Because the Earth's interior was hotter in the Archaean eon, the oceanic crust may have been thicker, thereby making the oceanic lithosphere more buoyant than at present, and whether subduction and plate tectonics occurred during this time is ambiguous, both in the geological record and in geodynamic models. Here we show that because the oceanic crust was thick and buoyant, early continents may have produced intra-lithospheric gravitational stresses large enough to drive their gravitational spreading, to initiate subduction at their margins and to trigger episodes of subduction. Our model predicts the co-occurrence of deep to progressively shallower mafic volcanics and arc magmatism within continents in a self-consistent geodynamic framework, explaining the enigmatic multimodal volcanism and tectonic record of Archaean cratons. Moreover, our model predicts a petrological stratification and tectonic structure of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle, two predictions that are consistent with xenolith and seismic studies, respectively, and consistent with the existence of a mid-lithospheric seismic discontinuity. The slow gravitational collapse of early continents could have kick-started transient episodes of plate tectonics until, as the Earth's interior cooled and oceanic lithosphere became heavier, plate tectonics became self-sustaining. PMID:25230662

  17. Mesozoic/Cenozoic tectonic events around Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Müller, R. Dietmar; Gaina, Carmen; Tikku, Anahita; Mihut, Dona; Cande, Steven C.; Stock, Joann M.

    We use an absolute and relative plate motion model for the plates around Australia to identify major plate tectonic events, evaluate their causes, and investigate their effects on anomalous intraplate subsidence or uplift and on the history of oceanic crustal accretion. An event at ˜136 Ma is marked by the onset of sea floor spreading between Greater India and Australia. At about this time long-lived subduction east of Australia ceased, probably due to subduction of the Phoenix-Pacific spreading ridge, changing this plate boundary to a transform margin. Between 130 and 80 Ma, Australia and East Antarctica moved eastward in the Atlantic-Indian mantle hotspot reference frame. This can be plausibly linked to ridge push from the NW-SE oriented spreading center NW of Australia and to the inferred geometry and continued subduction of the Phoenix plate beneath the West Antarctic margin. A drastic change in spreading direction between the Indian and Australian plates from NE-SW to N-S occurred at about 99 Ma, possibly caused by a change in absolute motion of the Pacific Plate. Chron 27 (˜61 Ma) marks the onset of relative motion between East and West Antarctica, and a change in the relative motion between Australia and Antarctica. It may be linked to the subduction of a segment of the Neo-Tethyan Ridge. Both events caused anomalous subsidence on the Northwest Shelf of Australia. The almost stationary position of Australia w.r.t. the mantle from ˜80 Ma to ˜40 Ma may reflect the progressive subduction of the Pacific-Phoenix ridge to the east of New Zealand preceding 80 Ma, resulting in a diminished trench suction force east of Australia. Preliminary reconstructions to close the Pacific-Australian plate circuit based on recently collected geophysical data indicate that a tectonic event at 43 Ma may mark the onset of renewed subduction east of Australia. At the same time spreading in the Wharton Basin between India and Australia ceased, and tectonic reactivation is

  18. Plate Tectonics in the Late Paleozoic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Domeier, Mat; Torsvik, Trond

    2014-05-01

    As the chronicle of plate motions through time, paleogeography is fundamental to our understanding of plate tectonics and its role in shaping the geology of the present-day. To properly appreciate the history of tectonics—and its influence on the deep Earth and climate—it is imperative to seek an accurate and global model of paleogeography. However, owing to the incessant loss of oceanic lithosphere through subduction, the paleogeographic reconstruction of 'full-plates' (including oceanic lithosphere) becomes increasingly challenging with age. Prior to 150 Ma ~60% of the lithosphere is missing and reconstructions are developed without explicit regard for oceanic lithosphere or plate tectonic principles; in effect, reflecting the earlier mobilistic paradigm of continental drift. Although these 'continental' reconstructions have been immensely useful, the next-generation of mantle models requires global plate kinematic descriptions with full-plate reconstructions. Moreover, in disregarding (or only loosely applying) plate tectonic rules, continental reconstructions fail to take advantage of a wealth of additional information in the form of practical constraints. Following a series of new developments, both in geodynamic theory and analytical tools, it is now feasible to construct full-plate models that lend themselves to testing by the wider Earth-science community. Such a model is presented here for the late Paleozoic (410-250 Ma). Although we expect this model to be particularly useful for numerical mantle modeling, we hope that it can also serve as a general framework for understanding late Paleozoic tectonics, one on which future improvements can be built and further tested.

  19. Plate Tectonics, Geographical Information System, paleogeography

    SciTech Connect

    Moore, Thomas L.; Scotese, Christopher

    2002-05-24

    The PaleoX.framwork is a dynamically linked/loaded framework for Cocoa applications. The primary goal of this library is to standardize several elements used for working with paleogeographic data. This includes objects designed to organize information for tectonic plates, including maps, rotation objects, plate names, and designations. In addition, PaleoX provides object-oriented solutions for handling standard paleogeographic file formats from the PALEOMAP Project.

  20. Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift: Classroom Ideas.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Stout, Prentice K.

    1983-01-01

    Suggests various classroom studies related to plate tectonics and continental drift, including comments on and sources of resource materials useful in teaching the topics. A complete list of magazine articles on the topics from the Sawyer Marine Resource Collection may be obtained by contacting the author. (JN)

  1. Plate tectonics drive tropical reef biodiversity dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Leprieur, Fabien; Descombes, Patrice; Gaboriau, Théo; Cowman, Peter F.; Parravicini, Valeriano; Kulbicki, Michel; Melián, Carlos J.; de Santana, Charles N.; Heine, Christian; Mouillot, David; Bellwood, David R.; Pellissier, Loïc

    2016-05-01

    The Cretaceous breakup of Gondwana strongly modified the global distribution of shallow tropical seas reshaping the geographic configuration of marine basins. However, the links between tropical reef availability, plate tectonic processes and marine biodiversity distribution patterns are still unknown. Here, we show that a spatial diversification model constrained by absolute plate motions for the past 140 million years predicts the emergence and movement of diversity hotspots on tropical reefs. The spatial dynamics of tropical reefs explains marine fauna diversification in the Tethyan Ocean during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic, and identifies an eastward movement of ancestral marine lineages towards the Indo-Australian Archipelago in the Miocene. A mechanistic model based only on habitat-driven diversification and dispersal yields realistic predictions of current biodiversity patterns for both corals and fishes. As in terrestrial systems, we demonstrate that plate tectonics played a major role in driving tropical marine shallow reef biodiversity dynamics.

  2. Plate tectonics drive tropical reef biodiversity dynamics

    PubMed Central

    Leprieur, Fabien; Descombes, Patrice; Gaboriau, Théo; Cowman, Peter F.; Parravicini, Valeriano; Kulbicki, Michel; Melián, Carlos J.; de Santana, Charles N.; Heine, Christian; Mouillot, David; Bellwood, David R.; Pellissier, Loïc

    2016-01-01

    The Cretaceous breakup of Gondwana strongly modified the global distribution of shallow tropical seas reshaping the geographic configuration of marine basins. However, the links between tropical reef availability, plate tectonic processes and marine biodiversity distribution patterns are still unknown. Here, we show that a spatial diversification model constrained by absolute plate motions for the past 140 million years predicts the emergence and movement of diversity hotspots on tropical reefs. The spatial dynamics of tropical reefs explains marine fauna diversification in the Tethyan Ocean during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic, and identifies an eastward movement of ancestral marine lineages towards the Indo-Australian Archipelago in the Miocene. A mechanistic model based only on habitat-driven diversification and dispersal yields realistic predictions of current biodiversity patterns for both corals and fishes. As in terrestrial systems, we demonstrate that plate tectonics played a major role in driving tropical marine shallow reef biodiversity dynamics. PMID:27151103

  3. Plate tectonics drive tropical reef biodiversity dynamics.

    PubMed

    Leprieur, Fabien; Descombes, Patrice; Gaboriau, Théo; Cowman, Peter F; Parravicini, Valeriano; Kulbicki, Michel; Melián, Carlos J; de Santana, Charles N; Heine, Christian; Mouillot, David; Bellwood, David R; Pellissier, Loïc

    2016-01-01

    The Cretaceous breakup of Gondwana strongly modified the global distribution of shallow tropical seas reshaping the geographic configuration of marine basins. However, the links between tropical reef availability, plate tectonic processes and marine biodiversity distribution patterns are still unknown. Here, we show that a spatial diversification model constrained by absolute plate motions for the past 140 million years predicts the emergence and movement of diversity hotspots on tropical reefs. The spatial dynamics of tropical reefs explains marine fauna diversification in the Tethyan Ocean during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic, and identifies an eastward movement of ancestral marine lineages towards the Indo-Australian Archipelago in the Miocene. A mechanistic model based only on habitat-driven diversification and dispersal yields realistic predictions of current biodiversity patterns for both corals and fishes. As in terrestrial systems, we demonstrate that plate tectonics played a major role in driving tropical marine shallow reef biodiversity dynamics. PMID:27151103

  4. History and Evolution of Precambrian plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fischer, Ria; Gerya, Taras

    2014-05-01

    Plate tectonics is a global self-organising process driven by negative buoyancy at thermal boundary layers. Phanerozoic plate tectonics with its typical subduction and orogeny is relatively well understood and can be traced back in the geological records of the continents. Interpretations of geological, petrological and geochemical observations from Proterozoic and Archean orogenic belts however (e.g., Brown, 2006), suggest a different tectonic regime in the Precambrian. Due to higher radioactive heat production the Precambrian lithosphere shows lower internal strength and is strongly weakened by percolating melts. The fundamental difference between Precambrian and Phanerozoic tectonics is therefore the upper-mantle temperature, which determines the strength of the upper mantle (Brun, 2002) and the further tectonic history. 3D petrological-thermomechanical numerical modelling experiments of oceanic subduction at an active plate at different upper-mantle temperatures show these different subduction regimes. For upper-mantle temperatures < 175 K above the present day value a subduction style appears which is close to present day subduction but with more frequent slab break-off. At upper-mantle temperatures 175 - 250 K above present day values steep subduction continues but the plates are weakened enough to allow buckling and also lithospheric delamination and drip-offs. For upper-mantle temperatures > 250 K above the present day value no subduction occurs any more. The whole lithosphere is delaminating and due to strong volcanism and formation of a thicker crust subduction is inhibited. This stage of 200-250 K higher upper mantle temperature which corresponds roughly to the early Archean (Abbott, 1994) is marked by strong volcanism due to sublithospheric decompression melting which leads to an equal thickness for both oceanic and continental plates. As a consequence subduction is inhibited, but a compressional setup instead will lead to orogeny between a continental

  5. Convection and plate tectonics on extrasolar planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sotin, C.; Grasset, O.; Schubert, G.

    2012-04-01

    The number of potential Earth-like exoplanets is still very limited compared to the overall number of detected exoplanets. But the different methods keep improving, giving hope for this number to increase significantly in the coming years. Based on the relationship between mass and radius, two of the easiest parameters that can be known for exoplanets, four categories of planets have been identified: (i) the gas giants including hot Jupiters, (ii) the icy giants that can be like their solar system cousins Uranus and Neptune or that can have lost their H2-He atmosphere and have become the so-called ocean planets, (iii) the Earth-like planets with a fraction of silicates and iron similar to that of the Earth, and (iv) the Mercury like planet that have a much larger fraction of iron. The hunt for exoplanets is very much focused on Earth-like planets because of the desire to find alien forms of life and the science goal to understand how life started and developed on Earth. One science question is whether heat transfer by subsolidus convection can lead to plate tectonics, a process that allows material to be recycled in the interior on timescales of hundreds of millions of years. Earth-like exoplanets may have conditions quite different from Earth. For example, COROT-7b is so close to its star that it is likely locked in synchronous orbit with one very hot hemisphere and one very cold hemisphere. It is also worth noting that among the three Earth-like planets of the solar system (Earth, Venus and Mars), only Earth is subject to plate tectonics at present time. Venus may have experienced plate tectonics before the resurfacing event that erased any clue that such a process existed. This study investigates some of the parameters that can influence the transition from stagnant-lid convection to mobile-lid convection. Numerical simulations of convective heat transfer have been performed in 3D spherical geometry in order to determine the stress field generated by convection

  6. Tectonic speed limits from plate kinematic reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zahirovic, Sabin; Müller, R. Dietmar; Seton, Maria; Flament, Nicolas

    2015-05-01

    The motion of plates and continents on the planet's surface are a manifestation of long-term mantle convection and plate tectonics. Present-day plate velocities provide a snapshot of this ongoing process, and have been used to infer controlling factors on the speeds of plates and continents. However, present-day velocities do not capture plate behaviour over geologically representative periods of time. To address this shortcoming, we use a plate tectonic reconstruction approach to extract time-dependent plate velocities and geometries from which root mean square (RMS) velocities are computed, resulting in a median RMS plate speed of ∼ 4 cm /yr over 200 Myr. Linking tectonothermal ages of continental lithosphere to the RMS plate velocity analysis, we find that the increasing portions of plate area composed of continental and/or cratonic lithosphere significantly reduces plate speeds. Plates with any cratonic portion have a median RMS velocity of ∼ 5.8 cm /yr, while plates with more than 25% of cratonic area have a median RMS speed of ∼ 2.8 cm /yr. The fastest plates (∼ 8.5 cm /yr RMS speed) have little continental fraction and tend to be bounded by subduction zones, while the slowest plates (∼ 2.6- 2.8 cm /yr RMS speed) have large continental fractions and usually have little to no subducting part of plate perimeter. More generally, oceanic plates tend to move 2-3 times faster than continental plates, consistent with predictions of numerical models of mantle convection. The slower motion of continental plates is compatible with deep keels impinging on asthenospheric flow and increasing shear traction, thus anchoring the plate in the more viscous mantle transition zone. We also find that short-lived (up to ∼ 10 Myr) rapid accelerations of Africa (∼100 and 65 Ma), North America (∼100 and 55 Ma) and India (∼ 130 , 80 and 65 Ma) appear to be correlated with plume head arrivals as recorded by large igneous province (LIPs) emplacement. By evaluating

  7. Caribbean plate tectonics from seismic tomography

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ten Brink, U. S.; Villasenor, A.

    2012-12-01

    New seismic tomography in the Caribbean shows close links between the geometry and dynamics of subducting slabs and the geology of the overriding plate. Unlike most oceanic plates, the Caribbean plate lacks identifiable seafloor magnetic anomalies and fracture zones. The plate's history has therefore been inferred primarily from land geology along the plate boundary, which is complicated by large-scale shear deformation, and from finite rotations of surrounding plates.We used more than 14 million arrival times from 300,000 earthquakes to identify P-wave velocity anomalies. We relate the anomalies to the geometry and dynamics of subducting slabs and to patterns of earthquake activity, volcanism, topographic relief, and tectonic deformation. For example, we detect two separate slabs belonging to the North and South American plates, respectively, which appear to be responsible for morphologic and tectonic differences between the arcs of the Northern (from Guadeloupe northward) and Southern (from Dominica southward) Lesser Antilles. Variations in earthquake activity between Haiti and the Dominican Republic can be explained by a change in slab geometry from an underplated slab beneath Haiti to a subducting slab under the Dominican Republic. A shallow tear in the slab may explain the anomalously deep Puerto Rico Trench and the frequent earthquake swarms there. The westward shift in volcanic activity in the Northern Lesser Antilles from the Miocene Limestone Caribbees to the present arc can be attributed to the limit on convective flow imposed by the 3-D geometry of the slab at depth. A thinned South America slab under the southern Lesser Antilles may result from traction imposed on the slab by a wide forearc wedge. Variations in tectonic deformation of northern South America could be related to the location of the Caribbean Large Igneous Province north of the Maracaibo Block.

  8. Lasting mantle scars lead to perennial plate tectonics

    PubMed Central

    Heron, Philip J.; Pysklywec, Russell N.; Stephenson, Randell

    2016-01-01

    Mid-ocean ridges, transform faults, subduction and continental collisions form the conventional theory of plate tectonics to explain non-rigid behaviour at plate boundaries. However, the theory does not explain directly the processes involved in intraplate deformation and seismicity. Recently, damage structures in the lithosphere have been linked to the origin of plate tectonics. Despite seismological imaging suggesting that inherited mantle lithosphere heterogeneities are ubiquitous, their plate tectonic role is rarely considered. Here we show that deep lithospheric anomalies can dominate shallow geological features in activating tectonics in plate interiors. In numerical experiments, we found that structures frozen into the mantle lithosphere through plate tectonic processes can behave as quasi-plate boundaries reactivated under far-field compressional forcing. Intraplate locations where proto-lithospheric plates have been scarred by earlier suturing could be regions where latent plate boundaries remain, and where plate tectonics processes are expressed as a ‘perennial' phenomenon. PMID:27282541

  9. Lasting mantle scars lead to perennial plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Heron, Philip J; Pysklywec, Russell N; Stephenson, Randell

    2016-01-01

    Mid-ocean ridges, transform faults, subduction and continental collisions form the conventional theory of plate tectonics to explain non-rigid behaviour at plate boundaries. However, the theory does not explain directly the processes involved in intraplate deformation and seismicity. Recently, damage structures in the lithosphere have been linked to the origin of plate tectonics. Despite seismological imaging suggesting that inherited mantle lithosphere heterogeneities are ubiquitous, their plate tectonic role is rarely considered. Here we show that deep lithospheric anomalies can dominate shallow geological features in activating tectonics in plate interiors. In numerical experiments, we found that structures frozen into the mantle lithosphere through plate tectonic processes can behave as quasi-plate boundaries reactivated under far-field compressional forcing. Intraplate locations where proto-lithospheric plates have been scarred by earlier suturing could be regions where latent plate boundaries remain, and where plate tectonics processes are expressed as a 'perennial' phenomenon. PMID:27282541

  10. Lasting mantle scars lead to perennial plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heron, Philip J.; Pysklywec, Russell N.; Stephenson, Randell

    2016-06-01

    Mid-ocean ridges, transform faults, subduction and continental collisions form the conventional theory of plate tectonics to explain non-rigid behaviour at plate boundaries. However, the theory does not explain directly the processes involved in intraplate deformation and seismicity. Recently, damage structures in the lithosphere have been linked to the origin of plate tectonics. Despite seismological imaging suggesting that inherited mantle lithosphere heterogeneities are ubiquitous, their plate tectonic role is rarely considered. Here we show that deep lithospheric anomalies can dominate shallow geological features in activating tectonics in plate interiors. In numerical experiments, we found that structures frozen into the mantle lithosphere through plate tectonic processes can behave as quasi-plate boundaries reactivated under far-field compressional forcing. Intraplate locations where proto-lithospheric plates have been scarred by earlier suturing could be regions where latent plate boundaries remain, and where plate tectonics processes are expressed as a `perennial' phenomenon.

  11. Seismology: tectonic strain in plate interiors?

    PubMed

    Calais, E; Mattioli, G; DeMets, C; Nocquet, J-M; Stein, S; Newman, A; Rydelek, P

    2005-12-15

    It is not fully understood how or why the inner areas of tectonic plates deform, leading to large, although infrequent, earthquakes. Smalley et al. offer a potential breakthrough by suggesting that surface deformation in the central United States accumulates at rates comparable to those across plate boundaries. However, we find no statistically significant deformation in three independent analyses of the data set used by Smalley et al., and conclude therefore that only the upper bounds of magnitude and repeat time for large earthquakes can be inferred at present. PMID:16355163

  12. Relationship between plume and plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Puchkov, V. N.

    2016-07-01

    The relationship between plate- and plume-tectonics is considered in view of the growth and breakdown of supercontinents, active rifting, the formation of passive volcanic-type continental margins, and the origin of time-progressive volcanic chains on oceanic and continental plates. The mantle wind phenomenon is described, as well as its effect on plume morphology and anisotropy of the ambient mantle. The interaction of plumes and mid-ocean ridges is discussed. The principles and problems of plume activity analysis in subduction- and collision-related foldbelts are considered and illustrated with examples.

  13. Writing and Visualization for Teaching Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Thomas, S. F.

    2004-12-01

    The Theory of Plate Tectonics is probably the most important paradigm for understanding the workings of our planet. As such it is an integral part in any Introductory Geology course. Whereas geology majors usually easily embrace the Theory of Plate Tectonics, the enthusiasm for the coherence and elegance of this theory appears to be much more subdued among the majority of non-science majors. While visual and electronic media certainly support the teaching of the theory, pretty pictures and animations are not sufficient for many non-science majors to grasp the concepts of interacting lithospheric plates. It is well known that students do better in learning scientific concepts if they create their own understanding through research and inquiry-based learning, by working in the field, manipulating real earth-science data, and through writing. Writing assignments give instructors the opportunity to assess their students' learning and to clarify misconceptions yet they also have to be willing to teach students how to craft a science paper. Most electronic media and textbook-added CD-ROMs are not useful for making the structure of a science paper transparent. I found many of the necessary ingredients for effectively teaching plate tectonics in the interactive CD-ROM, "Our Dynamic Planet", developed by Wm. Prothero together with G. Kelly (University of California at Santa Barbara). It allows students to select and manipulate real earth-science data of plate-tectonically active regions, and provides an electronic interface that lets students create graphical representations of their collected data. A downloadable Teacher's Manual provides suggestions on teaching students to write a scientific argument, rooted in sound pedagogy. Originally designed for a large oceanography class, the material was modified for use in a small introductory geology class for non-science majors. Various assignments were given to instruct students in writing a scientific argument based on their

  14. Generation and Initiation of Plate Tectonics on Terrestrail Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, Bradford J.

    The question of why plate tectonics occurs on Earth, but not on the other planets of our solar system, is one of the most fundamental issues in geophysics and planetary science. I study this problem using numerical simulations of mantle convection with a damage-grainsize feedback (grain-damage) to constrain the conditions necessary for plate tectonics to occur on a terrestrial planet, and how plate tectonics initiates. In Chapter 2, I use numerical simulations to determine how large a viscosity ratio, between pristine lithosphere and mantle, damage can offset to allow mobile (plate-like) convection. I then use the numerical results to formulate a new scaling law to describe the boundary between stagnant lid and plate-like regimes of mantle convection. I hypothesize that damage must reduce the viscosity of shear zones in the lithosphere to a critical value, equivalent to the underlying mantle viscosity, in order for plate tectonics to occur, and demonstrate that a scaling law based on this hypothesis reproduces the numerical results. For the Earth, damage is efficient in the lithosphere and provides a viable mechanism for the operation of plate tectonics. I apply my theory to super-Earths and map out the transition between plate-like and stagnant lid convection with a "planetary plate-tectonic phase" diagram in planet size-surface temperature space. Both size and surface temperature are important, with plate tectonics being favored for larger, cooler planets. This gives a natural explanation for Earth, Venus, and Mars, and implies that plate tectonics on exoplanets should correlate with size, incident solar radiation, and atmospheric composition. In Chapters 3 and 4 I focus on the initiation of plate tectonics. In Chapter 3, I develop detailed scaling laws describing plate speed and heat flow for mantle convection with grain-damage across a wide parameter range, with the intention of applying these scaling laws to the early Earth in Chapter 4. Convection with grain

  15. Quantitative tests for plate tectonics on Venus

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaula, W. M.; Phillips, R. J.

    1981-01-01

    Quantitative comparisons are made between the characteristics of plate tectonics on the earth and those which are possible on Venus. Considerations of the factors influencing rise height and relating the decrease in rise height to plate velocity indicate that the rate of topographic dropoff from spreading centers should be about half that on earth due to greater rock-fluid density contrast and lower temperature differential between the surface and interior. Statistical analyses of Pioneer Venus radar altimetry data and global earth elevation data is used to identify 21,000 km of ridge on Venus and 33,000 km on earth, and reveal Venus ridges to have a less well-defined mode in crest heights and a greater concavity than earth ridges. Comparison of the Venus results with the spreading rates and associated heat flow on earth reveals plate creation rates on Venus to be 0.7 sq km/year or less and indicates that not more than 15% of Venus's energy is delivered to the surface by plate tectonics, in contrast to values of 2.9 sq km a year and 70% for earth.

  16. Caribbean tectonics and relative plate motions

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Burke, K.; Dewey, J. F.; Cooper, C.; Mann, P.; Pindell, J. L.

    1984-01-01

    During the last century, three different ways of interpreting the tectonic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean have been proposed, taking into account the Bailey Willis School of a permanent pre-Jurassic deep sea basin, the Edward Suess School of a subsided continental terrain, and the Alfred Wegener School of continental separation. The present investigation is concerned with an outline of an interpretation which follows that of Pindell and Dewey (1982). An attempt is made to point out ways in which the advanced hypotheses can be tested. The fit of Africa, North America, and South America is considered along with aspects of relative motion between North and South America since the early Jurasic. Attention is given to a framework for reconstructing Caribbean plate evolution, the evolution of the Caribbean, the plate boundary zones of the northern and southern Caribbean, and the active deformation of the Caribbean plate.

  17. Global Dynamic Numerical Simulations of Plate Tectonic Reorganizations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morra, G.; Quevedo, L.; Butterworth, N.; Matthews, K. J.; Müller, D.

    2010-12-01

    We use a new numerical approach for global geodynamics to investigate the origin of present global plate motion and to identify the causes of the last two global tectonic reorganizations occurred about 50 and 100 million years ago (Ma) [1]. While the 50 Ma event is the most well-known global plate-mantle event, expressed by the bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor volcanic chain, a prominent plate reorganization at about 100 Ma, although presently little studied, is clearly indicated by a major bend in the fracture zones in the Indian Ocean and by a change in Pacific plate motion [2]. Our workflow involves turning plate reconstructions into surface meshes that are subsequently employed as initial conditions for global Boundary Element numerical models. The tectonic setting that anticipates the reorganizations is processed with the software GPlates, combining the 3D mesh of the paleo-plate morphology and the reconstruction of paleo-subducted slabs, elaborated from tectonic history [3]. All our models involve the entire planetary system, are fully dynamic, have free surface, are characterized by a spectacular computational speed due to the simultaneous use of the multi-pole algorithm and the Boundary Element formulation and are limited only by the use of sharp material property variations [4]. We employ this new tool to unravel the causes of plate tectonic reorganizations, producing and comparing global plate motion with the reconstructed ones. References: [1] Torsvik, T., Müller, R.D., Van der Voo, R., Steinberger, B., and Gaina, C., 2008, Global Plate Motion Frames: Toward a unified model: Reviews in Geophysics, VOL. 46, RG3004, 44 PP., 2008 [2] Wessel, P. and Kroenke, L.W. Pacific absolute plate motion since 145 Ma: An assessment of the fixed hot spot hypothesis. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 113, B06101, 2008 [3] L. Quevedo, G. Morra, R. D. Mueller. Parallel Fast Multipole Boundary Element Method for Crustal Dynamics, Proceeding 9th World Congress and 4th Asian

  18. Plate tectonic patterns and convection in the Phanerozoic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kanasewich, E. R.; Evans, M. E.; Havskov, J.

    Paleomagnetic observations, oceanic magnetic lineations and the present continental margins are combined in an interactive computer program to generate maps for seven periods in the Phanerozoic era. Geological evidence on the position of geosynclines, volcanic assemblages, and zones of diastrophism are used to model a reconstruction of major plate boundaries in the past. Only six to nine major plates are necessary to describe satisfactorily the main geological events in the paleomagnetic reconstruction of the continents. The stability of these plates over time is strong evidence that mantle-wide convection was, and is, present. The formation of the supercontinent Pangaea results from a change in the convective pattern from a third-order to a second-order system, while the breakup of Pangaea resulted from a shift back to a third-order convective pattern. It is concluded that the 10 principles of plate tectonics are a valuable guide for reconstructing the geological past.

  19. Geology and plate-tectonic development

    SciTech Connect

    Irwin, W.P.

    1990-01-01

    The San Andreas fault is a transform fault along the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. Bedrock along the fault includes various lithologic units that range in age from Precambrian to Tertiary and younger. Some bedrock units that can be matched across the fault suggest strike-slip displacement of as much as 560 km. This chapter describes geologic formations of northern and central California, including Franciscan rocks, Coast Range ophiolite, Great Valley sequence, Coast Range thrust, Salinian block, displacement of pre-Quaternary rocks by the San Andreas fault, and the relation of geologic structure to seismic behavior. Formations of southern California which are described are the Transverse Ranges and the Salton Trough and displacement of basement rocks by the San Andreas fault. Plate-tectonic development of the San Andreas fault is also discussed.

  20. Plate tectonic history of the Arctic

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Burke, K.

    1984-01-01

    Tectonic development of the Arctic Ocean is outlined, and geological maps are provided for the Arctic during the mid-Cenozoic, later Cretaceous, late Jurassic, early Cretaceous, early Jurassic and late Devonian. It is concluded that Arctic basin history is moulded by the events of the following intervals: (1) continental collision and immediately subsequent rifting and ocean formation in the Devonian, and continental rifting ocean formation, rapid rotation of microcontinents, and another episode of collision in the latest Jurassic and Cretaceous. It is noted that Cenozoic Arctic basin formation is a smaller scale event superimposed on the late Mesozoic ocean basin.

  1. Tectonic controls on the stratigraphic architecture and hydrocarbons systems of the Arabian Plate

    SciTech Connect

    Grabowski, G.J. Jr.; Norton, I.O.

    1995-12-31

    Arabian Platform sediments consist of major sequences separated by tectonically controlled unconformities. These tectonic events, at the plate margins, controlled the orientation and distribution of sedimentary facies on the stable platform. Eustacy and subsidence were the principle controls on the actual facies that formed.

  2. Plate tectonics and hotspots: the third dimension.

    PubMed

    Anderson, D L; Tanimoto, T; Zhang, Y S

    1992-06-19

    High-resolution seismic tomographic models of the upper mantle provide powerful new constraints on theories of plate tectonics and hotspots. Midocean ridges have extremely low seismic velocities to a depth of 100 kilometers. These low velocities imply partial melting. At greater depths, low-velocity and high-velocity anomalies record, respectively, previous positions of migrating ridges and trenches. Extensional, rifting, and hotspot regions have deep (> 200 kilometers) low-velocity anomalies. The upper mantle is characterized by vast domains of high temperature rather than small regions surrounding hotspots; the asthenosphere is not homogeneous or isothermal. Extensive magmatism requires a combination of hot upper mantle and suitable lithospheric conditions. High-velocity regions of the upper 200 kilometers of the mantle correlate with Archean cratons. PMID:17841084

  3. Plate tectonics and planetary habitability: current status and future challenges.

    PubMed

    Korenaga, Jun

    2012-07-01

    Plate tectonics is one of the major factors affecting the potential habitability of a terrestrial planet. The physics of plate tectonics is, however, still far from being complete, leading to considerable uncertainty when discussing planetary habitability. Here, I summarize recent developments on the evolution of plate tectonics on Earth, which suggest a radically new view on Earth dynamics: convection in the mantle has been speeding up despite its secular cooling, and the operation of plate tectonics has been facilitated throughout Earth's history by the gradual subduction of water into an initially dry mantle. The role of plate tectonics in planetary habitability through its influence on atmospheric evolution is still difficult to quantify, and, to this end, it will be vital to better understand a coupled core-mantle-atmosphere system in the context of solar system evolution. PMID:22256796

  4. Plate tectonics and petroleum potential of the Laptev Sea region

    SciTech Connect

    Savostin, L.; Drachev, S.; Baturin, D. )

    1991-08-01

    About 1,600 km of multichannel seismic data with simultaneous gravity and magnetic measurements were collected in the Laptev Sea during 1989. Additionally, a 100 km onshore seismic reflection profile transected the northern termination of the Verrkoyansky Mountains. Data interpretation showed the following. The tectonic patterns of the Laptev Sea region was formed as a result of two major tectonic phases. The first phase was associated with collisions between the Paleozoic passive margin of Siberia and a number of allochthonous terrains which were previously parts of the North American Paleo-Pacific plate. These tectonic events accompanied the opening of the Canadian basin and ended in the second half of the Early Cretaceous. The second phase was a result of the opening of the Makarov and the Europeo-Asiatic basins, which caused the rifting processes within the Laptev Sea Shelf. Seismic onshore data show that the orogenic sequence consists of allochthonous plates which were thrust onto the thick sedimentary cover the Siberia platform. An underthrusting sedimentary sequence is situated at depths from 3 to 5 km, which present a good possibility to reach by the drill. The geological analogy with Appalachian Mountains United States, permits one to propose a high petroleum potential for this area. A system of offshore Laptev Sea grabens consisting of a series of alternating tilted and thrusted blocks, along with intrablock pre-drift sediments, are promising as potential hydrocarbon traps. This is akin to structural setting within North Sea oil and gas province.

  5. Oil prospection using the tectonic plate model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pointu, Agnès

    2015-04-01

    Tectonic plate models are an intellectual setting to understand why oil deposits are so uncommon and unequally distributed and how models can be used in actual oil and gas prospection. In this case, we use the example of the Ghawar deposit (Saudi Arabia), one of the largest producing well in the world. In the first step, physical properties of rocks composing the oil accumulation are studied by laboratory experiments. Students estimate the porosity of limestone and clay by comparing their mass before and after water impregnation. Results are compared to microscopic observations. Thus, students come to the conclusion that oil accumulations are characterized by superposition of rocks with very different properties: a rich organic source rock (clays of the Hanifa formation), a porous reservoir rock to store the petroleum in (limestones of the Arab formation) and above an impermeable rock with very low porosity (evaporites of the Tithonien). In previous lessons, students have seen that organic matter is usually mineralized by bacteria and that this preservation requires particular conditions. The aim is to explain why biomass production has been so important during the deposit of the clays of the Hanifa formation. Tectonic plate models make it possible to estimate the location of the Arabian Peninsula during Jurassic times (age of Hanifa formation). In order to understand why the paleo-location of the Arabian Peninsula is important to preserve organic matter, students have different documents showing: - That primary production of biomass by phytoplankton is favored by climatic conditions, - That the position of continents determinate the ocean currents and the positions of upwelling zones and zones where organic matter will be able to be preserved, - That north of the peninsula there was a passive margin during Jurassic times. An actual seismic line is studied in order to highlight that this extensive area allowed thick sedimentary deposits to accumulate and that fast

  6. Geophysical Limitations on the Habitable Zone: Volcanism and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noack, Lena; Rivoldini, Attilio; Van Hoolst, Tim

    2016-04-01

    Planets are typically classified as potentially life-bearing planets (i.e. habitable planets) if they are rocky planets and if a liquid (e.g. water) could exist at the surface. The latter depends on several factors, like for example the amount of available solar energy, greenhouse effects in the atmosphere and an efficient CO2-cycle. However, the definition of the habitable zone should be updated to include possible geophysical constraints, that could potentially influence the CO2-cycle. Planets like Mars without plate tectonics and no or only limited volcanic events can only be considered to be habitable at the inner boundary of the habitable zone, since the greenhouse effect needed to ensure liquid surface water farther away from the sun is strongly reduced. We investigate if the planet mass as well as the interior structure can set constraints on the occurrence of plate tectonics and outgassing, and therefore affect the habitable zone, using both parameterized evolution models [1] and mantle convection simulations [1,2]. We find that plate tectonics, if it occurs, always leads to sufficient volcanic outgassing and therefore greenhouse effect needed for the outer boundary of the habitable zone (several tens of bar CO2), see also [3]. One-plate planets, however, may suffer strong volcanic limitations. The existence of a dense-enough CO2 atmosphere allowing for the carbon-silicate cycle and release of carbon at the outer boundary of the habitable zone may be strongly limited for planets: 1) without plate tectonics, 2) with a large planet mass, and/or 3) a high iron content. Acknowledgements This work has been funded by the Interuniversity Attraction Poles Programme initiated by the Belgian Science Policy Office through the Planet Topers alliance, and results within the collaboration of the COST Action TD 1308. References Noack, L., Rivoldini, A., and Van Hoolst, T.: CHIC - Coupling Habitability, Interior and Crust, INFOCOMP 2015, ISSN 2308-3484, ISBN 978

  7. This dynamic earth: the story of plate tectonics

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kious, W. Jacquelyne; Tilling, Robert I.

    1996-01-01

    In the early 1960s, the emergence of the theory of plate tectonics started a revolution in the earth sciences. Since then, scientists have verified and refined this theory, and now have a much better understanding of how our planet has been shaped by plate-tectonic processes. We now know that, directly or indirectly, plate tectonics influences nearly all geologic processes, past and present. Indeed, the notion that the entire Earth's surface is continually shifting has profoundly changed the way we view our world.People benefit from, and are at the mercy of, the forces and consequences of plate tectonics. With little or no warning, an earthquake or volcanic eruption can unleash bursts of energy far more powerful than anything we can generate. While we have no control over plate-tectonic processes, we now have the knowledge to learn from them. The more we know about plate tectonics, the better we can appreciate the grandeur and beauty of the land upon which we live, as well as the occasional violent displays of the Earth's awesome power.This booklet gives a brief introduction to the concept of plate tectonics and complements the visual and written information in This Dynamic Planet (see Further reading), a map published in 1994 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Smithsonian Institution. The booklet highlights some of the people and discoveries that advanced the development of the theory and traces its progress since its proposal. Although the general idea of plate tectonics is now widely accepted, many aspects still continue to confound and challenge scientists. The earth-science revolution launched by the theory of plate tectonics is not finished.

  8. Plate tectonics and the Gulf of California region

    SciTech Connect

    Schmidt, N.

    1990-11-01

    The geology and tectonism of California have been influenced greatly by the collision and interaction between the Pacific plate and the North American plate. The forces generated by this interaction caused substantial horizontal movement along the San Andreas fault system and created the Gulf of California rift zone. This article summarizes the unique features of the gulf, describes the theory of plate tectonics, explains how tectonism may have affected the geologic evolution and physiography of the gulf, and illustrates the process by which the Colorado River became linked to the gulf.

  9. Plate tectonic evolution of circum-Antarctic passive margins

    SciTech Connect

    Scotese, C.R.; Lawver, L.A.; Sclater, J.G.; Mayes, C.L.; Norton, I.; Royer, J.

    1987-05-01

    Passive margins that formed during the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous account for approximately 80% of the 15,000-km circumference of Antarctica. There are no passive margins younger than Late Cretaceous. Approximately 28% of these margins are Late Jurassic in age, 24% are Early Cretaceous in age, and the remaining 48% formed during the Late Cretaceous. The tectonic style of the rifting events that formed these margins varies considerably along the perimeter of Antarctica. In several areas the initiation of sea-floor spreading was preceded by a long period of extension and predrift stretching (Wilkes Land). Along other portions of the margin, rifting proceeded rapidly with little evidence for a lengthy phase of pre-drift extension (Queen Maud Land). Though extension is the dominant tectonic style, there is evidence for large-scale strike-slip movement associated with the early phases of continental breakup along the coasts of Crown Princess Martha Land and Victoria Land. Except for a short segment of the margin between the West Antarctic peninsula and Marie Byrdland, the Antarctic passive margins have not been affected by subsequent subduction-related compressive deformation. This presentation will review the plate tectonic evolution of the Circum-Antarctic passive margins during five time intervals: Early Jurassic, Late Jurassic, Early Cretaceous, mid-Cretaceous, and latest Cretaceous. A map illustrating the relative amounts of extension along the margin of Antarctica will be presented, and a computer animation illustrating the breakup of Gondwana from an Antarctic perspective will be shown.

  10. Constraining Initiation and Onset Time of Plate Tectonics on Earth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roller, G.

    2014-12-01

    The onset time for modern-style plate tectonics is still heavily debated among geoscientists. Proposed timings range from the Phanerozoic to the Hadean. Here I present a new theoretical approach to tackle this question. I combine ideas of nuclear astrophysics and geochronology and apply the concept of sudden nucleosynthesis to calculate so-called nucleogeochronometric Rhenium-Osmium model ages. Sudden nucleosynthesis has been suggested by nuclear theory [1-2] as a possible mechanism for the creation of the heavy isotopes. Hence, this concept may generally be used to identify rapid (r-) neutron-capture process events. For Earth, nucleogeochronometric model age calculations based upon published pyroxenite and komatiite data [3-5] point to an r-process event around 3 Ga. Since the r-process requires high neutron densities and temperatures within seconds, a gravitational core collapse forming at least a part of the inner core is discussed as a possible cause, thus initiating modern-style plate tectonics at that time. This age is in line with an earlier proposed value of 2.7 Ga for an inner core forming event [6], pronounced changes in the magnitude of the geomagnetic field and geological evidence like the onset of extensive plutonism and crust formation starting around the Archean-Proterozoic transition. Besides, results from nucleogeochronometric age calculations for published peridotitic pentlandites [7] lead to corrections as to their previously inconsistent model ages: These are now in good agreement with their Proterozoic 1.43 Ga isochronous regression line, supporting the model. [1] Burbidge et al. (1957) Revs. Mod. Phys. 29, 547 - 650. [2] Hoyle et al. (1960) ApJ 132, 565 - 590. [3] Reisberg et al. (1991) Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 105, 196 - 213. [4] Roy-Barman et al. (1996) Chem. Geol. 130, 55 - 64. [5] Luck et al. (1984) Earth Planet Sci. Lett. 68, 205 - 208. [6] Hale (1987) Nature 329, 233 -237. [7] Smit et al. (2010) Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 74, 3292 - 3306.

  11. On volcanism and thermal tectonics on one-plate planets

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    1978-01-01

    For planets with a single global lithospheric shell or 'plate', the thermal evolution of the interior affects the surface geologic history through volumetric expansion and the resultant thermal stress. Interior warming of such planets gives rise to extensional tectonics and a lithospheric stress system conductive to widespread volcanism. Interior cooling leads to compressional tectonics and lithospheric stresses that act to shut off surface volcanism. On the basis of observed surface tectonics, it is concluded that the age of peak planetary volume, the degree of early heating, and the age of youngest major volcanism on the one-plate terrestrial planets likely decrease in the order Mercury, Moon, Mars.

  12. On the breakup of tectonic plates by polar wandering

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Liu, H.-S.

    1974-01-01

    The equations for the stresses in a homogeneous shell of uniform thickness caused by a shift of the axis of rotation are derived. The magnitude of these stresses reaches a maximum value of the order of 10 to the 9th power dyn/sq cm, which is sufficient for explaining a tectonic breakup. In order to deduce the fracture pattern according to which the breakup of tectonic plates can be expected the theory of plastic deformation of shells is applied. The analysis of this pattern gives an explanation of the existing boundary systems of the major tectonic plates as described by Morgan (1968), LePichon (1968) and Isacks et al. (1968).

  13. The importance of temporal stress variation and dynamic disequilibrium for the initiation of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenković, V.; Höink, T.; Lenardic, A.

    2016-06-01

    We use 1-D thermal history models and 3-D numerical experiments to study the impact of dynamic thermal disequilibrium and large temporal variations of normal and shear stresses on the initiation of plate tectonics. Previous models that explored plate tectonics initiation from a steady state, single plate mode of convection concluded that normal stresses govern the initiation of plate tectonics, which based on our 1-D model leads to plate yielding being more likely with increasing interior heat and planet mass for a depth-dependent Byerlee yield stress. Using 3-D spherical shell mantle convection models in an episodic regime allows us to explore larger temporal stress variations than can be addressed by considering plate failure from a steady state stagnant lid configuration. The episodic models show that an increase in convective mantle shear stress at the lithospheric base initiates plate failure, which leads with our 1-D model to plate yielding being less likely with increasing interior heat and planet mass. In this out-of-equilibrium and strongly time-dependent stress scenario, the onset of lithospheric overturn events cannot be explained by boundary layer thickening and normal stresses alone. Our results indicate that in order to understand the initiation of plate tectonics, one should consider the temporal variation of stresses and dynamic disequilibrium.

  14. Mesozoic Plate Tectonic Evolution of the Northern Margin of Pangea

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, E. L.

    2011-12-01

    Asia joined Laurentia and Baltica during the formation of the Urals in the Early Permian. Subsequently, the northern margin of Pangea shared a paleo-Pacific facing margin. Analysis of events along this (mostly active) margin provides insight into the plate tectonic setting and evolution of the Arctic basins and their temporal links to Pacific margin events. A 3-phase tectonic evolution characterizes the northern margin of Pangea during the Mesozoic: 1. Permo-Triassic rifting (Siberian Trap magmatism)was linked to rifting in a series of back-arc basins developed along the northern margin of Pangea. Triassic-Jurasic deep-water sedimentary seqences deposited in these basins were subsequently deformed during phase 2 events. 2. Lithospheric shortening/convergence across this margin deformed these basinal sediments and shed syn-orogenic deposits cratonward in the Jura-Cretaceous. Syn-orogenic basinal successions are widespread from the Verkoyansk margin of Siberia to the Brooks Range fold and thrust belt. Their sources are well-characterized by U-Pb ages of detrital zircon suites and include Pennsylvanian-Permian, Triassic and Jurassic magmatic belts, implying convergence and emplacement of a long-lived arc system onto the continental margin. 3. Structures related to phase 2 are cut and overprinted by voluminous, syn-extensional, slab-related magmatism that developed during southward or Pacific-ward migration of a N-dipping subducting slab. It is inferred that the earliest part of the Amerasia Basin likely opened during part of this magmatic event, 135 to 90 Ma. The final culmination of this magmatic event is the Ohotsk-Chukotsk volcanic belt, ~90-75 Ma;after this, magmatism continues to migrate Pacific-ward in a series of steps. Utilizing plate models of the Arctic by Lawver et al.(2002) it can be shown that some of the differences in the timing and style of Mesozoic orogenesis along the northern paleo-Pacific margin of Pangea (and especially the differences between the

  15. The present-day number of tectonic plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harrison, Christopher G. A.

    2016-03-01

    The number of tectonic plates on Earth described in the literature has expanded greatly since the start of the plate tectonic era, when only about a dozen plates were considered in global models of present-day plate motions. With new techniques of more accurate earthquake epicenter locations, modern ways of measuring ocean bathymetry using swath mapping, and the use of space based geodetic techniques, there has been a huge growth in the number of plates thought to exist. The study by Bird (2003) proposed 52 plates, many of which were delineated on the basis of earthquake locations. Because of the pattern of areas of these plates, he suggested that there should be more small plates than he could identify. In this paper, I gather together publications that have proposed a total of 107 new plates, giving 159 plates in all. The largest plate (Pacific) is about 20 % of the Earth's area or 104 Mm2, and the smallest of which (Plate number 5 from Hammond et al. 2011) is only 273 km2 in area. Sorting the plates by size allows us to investigate how size varies as a function of order. There are several changes of slope in the plots of plate number organized by size against plate size order which are discussed. The sizes of the largest seven plates is constrained by the area of the Earth. A middle set of 73 plates down to an area of 97,563 km2 (the Danakil plate at number 80, is the plate of median size) follows a fairly regular pattern of plate size as a function of plate number. For smaller plates, there is a break in the slope of the plate size/plate number plot and the next 32 plates follow a pattern of plate size proposed by the models of Koehn et al. (2008) down to an area of 11,638 km2 (West Mojave plate # 112). Smaller plates do not follow any regular pattern of area as a function of plate number, probably because we have not sampled enough of these very small plates to reveal any clear pattern.

  16. Optimal Planet Properties For Plate Tectonics Through Time And Space

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenkovic, Vlada; Seager, Sara

    2014-11-01

    Both the time and the location of planet formation shape a rocky planet’s mass, interior composition and structure, and hence also its tectonic mode. The tectonic mode of a planet can vary between two end-member solutions, plate tectonics and stagnant lid convection, and does significantly impact outgassing and biogeochemical cycles on any rocky planet. Therefore, estimating how the tectonic mode of a planet is affected by a planet’s age, mass, structure, and composition is a major step towards understanding habitability of exoplanets and geophysical false positives to biosignature gases. We connect geophysics to astronomy in order to understand how we could identify and where we could find planet candidates with optimal conditions for plate tectonics. To achieve this goal, we use thermal evolution models, account for the current wide range of uncertainties, and simulate various alien planets. Based on our best model estimates, we predict that the ideal targets for plate tectonics are oxygen-dominated (C/O<1) (solar system like) rocky planets of ~1 Earth mass with surface oceans, large metallic cores super-Mercury, rocky body densities of ~7000kgm-3), and with small mantle concentrations of iron 0%), water 0%), and radiogenic isotopes 10 times less than Earth). Super-Earths, undifferentiated planets, and especially hypothetical carbon planets, speculated to consist of SiC and C, are not optimal for the occurrence of plate tectonics. These results put Earth close to an ideal compositional and structural configuration for plate tectonics. Moreover, the results indicate that plate tectonics might have never existed on planets formed soon after the Big Bang—but instead is favored on planets formed from an evolved interstellar medium enriched in iron but depleted in silicon, oxygen, and especially in Th, K, and U relative to iron. This possibly sets a belated Galactic start for complex Earth-like surface life if plate tectonics significantly impacts the build up

  17. North Chilean forearc tectonics and cenozoic plate kinematics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Buddin, Tim S.; Stimpson, Ian G.; Williams, Graham D.

    1993-04-01

    The continental forearc of northern Chile has been subjected to contemporaneous extension and compression. Here, cross-sections constructed across the forearc are presented which show that since initial shortening, deformation of the forearc has occurred in two tectonically distinct areas. These inner and outer forearc areas are separated by the strain discontinuity of the Atacama fault system and the tectonically neutral Central Depression. The outer forearc, the Coastal Cordillera, exhibits extensional tectonics, with large (up to 300 m) normal fault scarps preserved. These faults cut the earlier thrusts responsible for the elevation of Jurassic rocks at the coast above their regional elevation. The normal faults have been re-activated, displacing Quaternary salt deposits in the Salar Grande. This re-activation of the basement faults is probably due to the subduction of anomalously thick oceanic crust, producing an isostatic imbalance in the outer forearc. In the inner forearc, cross-sections through the Sierra del Medio and Cordillera de Domeyko show that structures of the Pre-Cordillera are best explained by a thick-skinned thrust system, with localized thin-skinned tectonics controlled by evaporite detachment horizons. Current forearc deformation features indicate a strong degree of correlation between subduction zone geometry and forearc tectonics. The timing of Cenozoic tectonism also fits well with established plate motion parameters, and the spatial and temporal variation in the state of stress of the forearc shows a close relationship throughout the Cenozoic to the plate kinematics and morphology of the subducting Nazca plate.

  18. Plate-tectonic evolution of the western U.S.A.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hamilton, W.

    1987-01-01

    Changing interactions of lithospheric plates provide the framework for this review of the 3100 m.y. geological history of some 3 million km2 of mountains, deserts, plateaux and plains. The Precambrian to Neogene development of the western U.S.A. is outlined in terms of plate collisions, subduction events and deformation of lithospheric slabs, with some interpretations based on SE Asia and other regions of complex tectonics.-R.A.H.

  19. Perennial plate tectonics with lasting mantle lithosphere scars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heron, P.; Pysklywec, R. N.; Stephenson, R.

    2015-12-01

    Although the conventional theory of plate tectonics can explain non-rigid behaviour at plate boundaries, it cannot adequately explain the processes involved in deformation and seismicity within plate interiors. Here, we consider that the pre-existing deformation or "scarring" within the mantle lithosphere may have a very long lived presence that could incorporate deformation of the plate interior and plate boundary. Mantle lithosphere scars from continent-continent collisions could generate virtual plate boundaries that remain over long timescales, producing "perennial" plate tectonics. Local geophysical studies can map the crustal environment well, and global whole mantle tomography models are rapidly improving, yet high-resolution images of the mantle lithosphere are often not available in regions where scarring may be present. Where mantle lithosphere heterogeneities have been observed (usually interpreted simply as subduction scars), the same attention has not been afforded to them as, for example, re-activation of faults within the Earth's crust. In idealized numerical simulations, we compare how relic scarring at varying depths in the lithosphere affects patterns of deformation. High-resolution thermal-mechanical numerical experiments explore continental lithospheric deformation featuring a weakened crust and mantle lithosphere scars. Our models show that deep lithospheric scars can control the tectonic evolution of a region over shallow geological features, indicating the importance of mantle lithosphere heterogeneities. The Altyn Tagh Fault (ATF) in central China is an example of an ancient continental collision zone that undergoes periodic deformation during times of regional compression. We suggest that the ATF may be a locale where a long-lasting mantle lithosphere scar can control the subsequent crustal evolution and deformation, with ancient plate boundaries having a "perennial" plate tectonic presence.

  20. A window for plate tectonics in terrestrial planet evolution?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Neill, Craig; Lenardic, Adrian; Weller, Matthew; Moresi, Louis; Quenette, Steve; Zhang, Siqi

    2016-06-01

    The tectonic regime of a planet depends critically on the contributions of basal and internal heating to the planetary mantle, and how these evolve through time. We use viscoplastic mantle convection simulations, with evolving core-mantle boundary temperatures, and radiogenic heat decay, to explore how these factors affect tectonic regime over the lifetime of a planet. The simulations demonstrate (i) hot, mantle conditions, coming out of a magma ocean phase of evolution, can produce a "hot" stagnant-lid regime, whilst a cooler post magma ocean mantle may begin in a plate tectonic regime; (ii) planets may evolve from an initial hot stagnant-lid condition, through an episodic regime lasting 1-3 Gyr, into a plate-tectonic regime, and finally into a cold, senescent stagnant lid regime after ∼10 Gyr of evolution, as heat production and basal temperatures wane; and (iii) the thermal state of the post magma ocean mantle, which effectively sets the initial conditions for the sub-solidus mantle convection phase of planetary evolution, is one of the most sensitive parameters affecting planetary evolution - systems with exactly the same physical parameters may exhibit completely different tectonics depending on the initial state employed. Estimates of the early Earth's temperatures suggest Earth may have begun in a hot stagnant lid mode, evolving into an episodic regime throughout most of the Archaean, before finally passing into a plate tectonic regime. The implication of these results is that, for many cases, plate tectonics may be a phase in planetary evolution between hot and cold stagnant states, rather than an end-member.

  1. Plate Tectonics on Earth-like Planets: Implications for Habitability

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noack, L.; Breuer, D.

    2011-12-01

    Plate tectonics has been suggested to be essential for life (see e.g. [1]) due to the replenishment of nutrients and its role in the stabilization of the atmosphere temperature through the carbon-silicate cycle. Whether plate tectonics can prevail on a planet should depend on several factors, e.g. planetary mass, age of the planet, water content (at the surface and in the interior), surface temperature, mantle rheology, density variations in the mantle due to partial melting, and life itself by promoting erosion processes and perhaps even the production of continental rock [2]. In the present study, we have investigated how planetary mass, internal heating, surface temperature and water content in the mantle would factor for the probability of plate tectonics to occur on a planet. We allow the viscosity to be a function of pressure [3], an effect mostly neglected in previous discussions of plate tectonics on exoplanets [4, 5]. With the pressure-dependence of viscosity allowed for, the lower mantle may become too viscous in massive planets for convection to occur. When varying the planetary mass between 0.1 and 10 Earth masses, we find a maximum for the likelihood of plate tectonics to occur for planetary masses around a few Earth masses. For these masses the convective stresses acting at the base of the lithosphere are strongest and may become larger than the lithosphere yield strength. The optimum planetary mass varies slightly depending on the parameter values used (e.g. wet or dry rheology; initial mantle temperature). However, the peak in likelihood of plate tectonics remains roughly in the range of one to five Earth masses for reasonable parameter choices. Internal heating has a similar effect on the occurrence of plate tectonics as the planetary mass, i.e. there is a peak in the probability of plate tectonics depending on the internal heating rate. This result suggests that a planet may evolve as a consequence of radioactive decay into and out of the plate

  2. Origin of plate tectonics: Grain-damage, inheritance and hysteresis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, D.; Ricard, Y. R.

    2015-12-01

    The emergence of plate tectonics is enigmatic because of the lack of observations in the early Archean as well as the challenge of understanding how plates form. The damage theory of lithospheric weakening by grain-reduction provides a physical framework for plate generation. This model builds on grain-scale physics to describe planetary-scale processes, and is consistent with lab and field observations of polycrystalline rocks and lithospheric mylonites. Grain-damage accounts for the evolution of damage and healing by grain growth, hence predicts plate boundary formation and longevity, and how they depend on surface conditions. The establishment of global plate tectonics likely started between >4Ga and 2.7Ga, and may have taken over a billion years to develop. Under Earth-like conditions, grain-damage combined with intermittent Archean protosubduction produces persistent weak zones that accumulate into well developed plates by 3Ga. However, Venus' hotter surface promotes healing, suppresses damage and inhibits weak zone accumulation, which suggests why plate tectonics failed to spread on our sister planet. New work posits that interface damage is possibly suppressed at moderate grain-size; this induces a hysteresis loop wherein three equilibrium deformation branches coexist. These branches include a stable large-grain, weakly-deforming state in dislocation creep, a stable small-grain rapidly-deforming state in diffusion creep analogous to mylonites, and an unstable intermediate-grain state. At the right conditions, a lithosphere can acquire two stable deformation states characteristic of plate tectonics; i.e., both slowly deforming plate interiors and rapidly deforming plate boundaries can co-exist. Earth currently sits inside the hysteresis loop and can have coexisting deformation states, while Venus sits at the end of the loop where only the weakly deforming branch dominates. The hot post-Hadean Earth might have had peak deformation only on the weakly

  3. Numerical modelling of instantaneous plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Minster, J. B.; Haines, E.; Jordan, T. H.; Molnar, P.

    1974-01-01

    Assuming lithospheric plates to be rigid, 68 spreading rates, 62 fracture zones trends, and 106 earthquake slip vectors are systematically inverted to obtain a self-consistent model of instantaneous relative motions for eleven major plates. The inverse problem is linearized and solved iteratively by a maximum-likelihood procedure. Because the uncertainties in the data are small, Gaussian statistics are shown to be adequate. The use of a linear theory permits (1) the calculation of the uncertainties in the various angular velocity vectors caused by uncertainties in the data, and (2) quantitative examination of the distribution of information within the data set. The existence of a self-consistent model satisfying all the data is strong justification of the rigid plate assumption. Slow movement between North and South America is shown to be resolvable.

  4. Background events in microchannel plates

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Siegmund, O. H. W.; Vallerga, J.; Wargelin, B.

    1988-01-01

    Measurements have been made to assess the characteristics and origins of background events in microchannel plates (MCPs). An overall background rate of about 0.4 events/sq cm persec has been achieved consistently for MCPs that have been baked and scrubbed. The temperature and gain of the MCPs are found to have no significant effect on the background rate. Detection of 1.46-MeV gamma rays from the MCP glass confirms the presence of K-40, with a concentration of 0.0007 percent, in MCP glass. It is shown that beta decay from K-40 is sufficient to cause the background rate and spectrum observed. Anticoincidence measurements indicate the the background rate caused by cosmic ray interactions is small (less than 0.016 events/sq cm per sec).

  5. Plate tectonics: Delayed response to mantle pull

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nedimović, Mladen R.

    2016-08-01

    At mid-ocean ridges, the directions in which plates spread and the underlying mantle flows were thought to broadly align. A synthesis of results from ridges that spread at a variety of rates reveals that instead there may be a systematic skew.

  6. A New Test of Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Shea, James Herbert

    1989-01-01

    Discussed are two techniques that can be used to directly test the theory that the plates which make up the crust of the earth are still moving. Described are the use of satellite laser ranging and very long baseline interferometry. Samples of data and their analysis are provided. (CW)

  7. Plate Tectonism on Early Mars: Diverse Geological and Geophysical Evidence

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Dohm, J. M.; Maruyama, S.; Baker, V. R.; Anderson, R. C.; Ferris, Justin C.; Hare, Trent M.

    2002-01-01

    Mars has been modified by endogenic and exogenic processes similar in many ways to Earth. However, evidence of Mars embryonic development is preserved because of low erosion rates and stagnant lid convective conditions since the Late Noachian. Early plate tectonism can explain such evidence. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.

  8. Inversion for the driving forces of plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Richardson, R. M.

    1983-01-01

    Inverse modeling techniques have been applied to the problem of determining the roles of various forces that may drive and resist plate tectonic motions. Separate linear inverse problems have been solved to find the best fitting pole of rotation for finite element grid point velocities and to find the best combination of force models to fit the observed relative plate velocities for the earth's twelve major plates using the generalized inverse operator. Variance-covariance data on plate motion have also been included. Results emphasize the relative importance of ridge push forces in the driving mechanism. Convergent margin forces are smaller by at least a factor of two, and perhaps by as much as a factor of twenty. Slab pull, apparently, is poorly transmitted to the surface plate as a driving force. Drag forces at the base of the plate are smaller than ridge push forces, although the sign of the force remains in question.

  9. Beyond plate tectonics - Looking at plate deformation with space geodesy

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Jordan, Thomas H.; Minster, J. Bernard

    1988-01-01

    The requirements that must be met by space-geodetic systems in order to constrain the horizontal secular motions associated with the geological deformation of the earth's surface are explored. It is suggested that in order to improve existing plate-motion models, the tangential components of relative velocities on interplate baselines must be resolved to an accuracy of less than 3 mm/yr. Results indicate that measuring the velocities between crustal blocks to + or - 5 mm/yr on 100-km to 1000-km scales can produce geologically significant constraints on the integrated deformation rates across continental plate-boundary zones such as the western United States.

  10. Creep of phyllosilicates at the onset of plate tectonics

    SciTech Connect

    Amiguet, Elodie; Reynard, Bruno; Caracas, Razvan; Van de Moortele, Bertrand; Hilairet, Nadege; Wang, Yanbin

    2012-10-24

    Plate tectonics is the unifying paradigm of geodynamics yet the mechanisms and causes of its initiation remain controversial. Some models suggest that plate tectonics initiates when the strength of lithosphere is lower than 20-200 MPa, below the frictional strength of lithospheric rocks (>700 MPa). At present-day, major plate boundaries such as the subduction interface, transform faults, and extensional faults at mid-oceanic ridge core complexes indicate a transition from brittle behaviour to stable sliding at depths between 10 and 40 km, in association with water-rock interactions forming phyllosilicates. We explored the rheological behaviour of lizardite, an archetypal phyllosilicate of the serpentine group formed in oceanic and subduction contexts, and its potential influence on weakening of the lithospheric faults and shear zones. High-pressure deformation experiments were carried out on polycrystalline lizardite - the low temperature serpentine variety - using a D-DIA apparatus at a variety of pressure and temperature conditions from 1 to 8 GPa and 150 to 400 C and for strain rates between 10{sup -4} and 10{sup -6} s{sup -1}. Recovered samples show plastic deformation features and no evidence of brittle failure. Lizardite has a large rheological anisotropy, comparable to that observed in the micas. Mechanical results and first-principles calculations confirmed easy gliding on lizardite basal plane and show that the flow stress of phyllosilicate is in the range of the critical value of 20-200 MPa down to depths of about 200 km. Thus, foliated serpentine or chlorite-bearing rocks are sufficiently weak to account for plate tectonics initiation, aseismic sliding on the subduction interface below the seismogenic zone, and weakening of the oceanic lithosphere along hydrothermally altered fault zones. Serpentinisation easing the deformation of the early crust and shallow mantle reinforces the idea of a close link between the occurrence of plate tectonics and water at

  11. Punctuated equilibria plate tectonics and exploration strategies: Examples from Australia and South America

    SciTech Connect

    Ross, M.I.; Abreu, V.; Vail, P.R. )

    1996-01-01

    Understanding the interplay between plate tectonic events, subsidence, flexure, and depositional systems is critical to successful exploration, play concept development, and maturation modelling in frontier exploration. Conventional exploration techniques (seismic/well log mapping, geohistory, geophysical, and forward modelling) are used to quantitatively describe the stratigraphic packages observed in basins, but the driving force creating and destroying the packages has typically been qualitatively described as subsidence/uplift events. In order to predict depositional systems patterns, the driving force of these events must be more quantitatively understood. We observe that the tectonic history of plates is characterized by long periods of fairly constant motion interrupted by short events of re- organization ([open quotes]punctuated equilibria[close quotes]). We also observe that these events are usually regional in nature and cause changes in regional subsidence patterns. Furthermore, these changes cause changes in major depositional system locations and characteristics. Analysis of-the plate tectonic history of motion predicts times of quiescence and times of rapid change in basin stratigraphy and therefore produce more effective exploration strategies. We have performed integrated sequence stratigraphic analysis in three basins (Barrow/Dampier, Otway, Santos-Pelotas), on two widely displaced continents (Australia and South America), spanning the Cretaceous Period. Although the tectonic histories are different, each basin responds to its tectonic history in a similar fashion: slow (or negative) subsidence diminishes volume and recognizability of transgressive and highstand systems tract and increases the volume and recognizability of lowstand systems tracts. The alternate case (rapid subsidence) produces the alternate result.

  12. Punctuated equilibria plate tectonics and exploration strategies: Examples from Australia and South America

    SciTech Connect

    Ross, M.I.; Abreu, V.; Vail, P.R.

    1996-12-31

    Understanding the interplay between plate tectonic events, subsidence, flexure, and depositional systems is critical to successful exploration, play concept development, and maturation modelling in frontier exploration. Conventional exploration techniques (seismic/well log mapping, geohistory, geophysical, and forward modelling) are used to quantitatively describe the stratigraphic packages observed in basins, but the driving force creating and destroying the packages has typically been qualitatively described as subsidence/uplift events. In order to predict depositional systems patterns, the driving force of these events must be more quantitatively understood. We observe that the tectonic history of plates is characterized by long periods of fairly constant motion interrupted by short events of re- organization ({open_quotes}punctuated equilibria{close_quotes}). We also observe that these events are usually regional in nature and cause changes in regional subsidence patterns. Furthermore, these changes cause changes in major depositional system locations and characteristics. Analysis of-the plate tectonic history of motion predicts times of quiescence and times of rapid change in basin stratigraphy and therefore produce more effective exploration strategies. We have performed integrated sequence stratigraphic analysis in three basins (Barrow/Dampier, Otway, Santos-Pelotas), on two widely displaced continents (Australia and South America), spanning the Cretaceous Period. Although the tectonic histories are different, each basin responds to its tectonic history in a similar fashion: slow (or negative) subsidence diminishes volume and recognizability of transgressive and highstand systems tract and increases the volume and recognizability of lowstand systems tracts. The alternate case (rapid subsidence) produces the alternate result.

  13. The magma ocean as an impediment to lunar plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Warren, P. H.

    1993-03-01

    The primary impediment to plate tectonics on the moon was probably the great thickness of its crust and particularly its high crust/lithosphere thickness ratio. This in turn can be attributed to the preponderance of low-density feldspar over all other Al-compatible phases in the lunar interior. During the magma ocean epoch, the moon's crust/lithosphere thickness ratio was at the maximum theoretical value, approximately 1, and it remained high for a long time afterwards. A few large regions of thin crust were produced by basin-scale cratering approximately contemporaneous with the demise of the magma ocean. However, these regions probably also tend to have uncommonly thin lithosphere, since they were directly heated and indirectly enriched in K, Th, and U by the same cratering process. Thus, plate tectonics on the moon in the form of systematic lithosphere subduction was impeded by the magma ocean.

  14. Could plate tectonics on Venus be concealed by volcanic deposits

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Kaula, W. M.; Muradian, L. M.

    1982-01-01

    The present investigation is supplementary to a study reported by Kaula and Phillips (1981). From an analysis of Pioneer Venus altimetry, Kaula and Phillips had inferred that any heat loss from the planet by plate tectonics must be small compared to that from the earth. However, it has been suggested by others that plate tectonic may exist on Venus, but that the expected 'square root of s' dependence of the topographic drop off is not observed because it is concealed by lava flows. The present investigation has the objective to conduct an examination whether this suggestion of concealment by lava flow is correct. On the basis of the performed analysis, it is concluded that the results obtained by Kaula and Phillips appear to be well justified.

  15. The magma ocean as an impediment to lunar plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Warren, Paul H.

    1993-01-01

    The primary impediment to plate tectonics on the moon was probably the great thickness of its crust and particularly its high crust/lithosphere thickness ratio. This in turn can be attributed to the preponderance of low-density feldspar over all other Al-compatible phases in the lunar interior. During the magma ocean epoch, the moon's crust/lithosphere thickness ratio was at the maximum theoretical value, approximately 1, and it remained high for a long time afterwards. A few large regions of thin crust were produced by basin-scale cratering approximately contemporaneous with the demise of the magma ocean. However, these regions probably also tend to have uncommonly thin lithosphere, since they were directly heated and indirectly enriched in K, Th, and U by the same cratering process. Thus, plate tectonics on the moon in the form of systematic lithosphere subduction was impeded by the magma ocean.

  16. A seismic reflection image for the base of a tectonic plate.

    PubMed

    Stern, T A; Henrys, S A; Okaya, D; Louie, J N; Savage, M K; Lamb, S; Sato, H; Sutherland, R; Iwasaki, T

    2015-02-01

    Plate tectonics successfully describes the surface of Earth as a mosaic of moving lithospheric plates. But it is not clear what happens at the base of the plates, the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB). The LAB has been well imaged with converted teleseismic waves, whose 10-40-kilometre wavelength controls the structural resolution. Here we use explosion-generated seismic waves (of about 0.5-kilometre wavelength) to form a high-resolution image for the base of an oceanic plate that is subducting beneath North Island, New Zealand. Our 80-kilometre-wide image is based on P-wave reflections and shows an approximately 15° dipping, abrupt, seismic wave-speed transition (less than 1 kilometre thick) at a depth of about 100 kilometres. The boundary is parallel to the top of the plate and seismic attributes indicate a P-wave speed decrease of at least 8 ± 3 per cent across it. A parallel reflection event approximately 10 kilometres deeper shows that the decrease in P-wave speed is confined to a channel at the base of the plate, which we interpret as a sheared zone of ponded partial melts or volatiles. This is independent, high-resolution evidence for a low-viscosity channel at the LAB that decouples plates from mantle flow beneath, and allows plate tectonics to work. PMID:25653000

  17. Plate tectonics and crustal deformation around the Japanese Islands

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hashimoto, Manabu; Jackson, David D.

    1993-01-01

    We analyze over a century of geodetic data to study crustal deformation and plate motion around the Japanese Islands, using the block-fault model for crustal deformation developed by Matsu'ura et al. (1986). We model the area including the Japanese Islands with 19 crustal blocks and 104 faults based on the distribution of active faults and seismicity. Geodetic data are used to obtain block motions and average slip rates of faults. This geodetic model predicts that the Pacific plate moves N deg 69 +/- 2 deg W at about 80 +/- 3 mm/yr relative to the Eurasian plate which is much lower than that predicted in geologic models. Substantial aseismic slip occurs on the subduction boundaries. The block containing the Izu Peninsula may be separated from the rigid part of the Philippine Sea plate. The faults on the coast of Japan Sea and the western part of the Median Tectonic Line have slip rates exceeding 4 mm/yr, while the Fossa Magna does not play an important role in the tectonics of the central Japan. The geodetic model requires the division of northeastern Japan, contrary to the hypothesis that northeastern Japan is a part of the North American plate. Owing to rapid convergence, the seismic risk in the Nankai trough may be larger than that of the Tokai gap.

  18. Stress in the lithosphere from non-tectonic loads with implications for plate boundary processes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Luttrell, Karen Marie

    Stress in the lithosphere from non-tectonic loads is calculated, making use of semi-analytic Fourier models. Sources of non-tectonic stress include coastal lithospheric bending in response to the rise in eustatic sea level since the Last Glacial Maximum, lithospheric rebound and pore pressure changes in response to the intermittent load of Ancient Lake Cahuilla in the Salton trough, stress sustained through the formation and long-term support of local short-wavelength topography, and topography created by the ejecta debris from impact craters on the surface of the icy Galilean satellites. Stresses from time varying surface water loads are calculated along major plate boundaries globally to determine to what extent, if any, these loads influence the major tectonic processes at work in plate boundary regions, such as the earthquake cycle on major faults. It is determined that the stress perturbations from these loads are generally an order of magnitude smaller than the tectonic stress accumulation rate. Their ability to noticeably affect the seismic cycle is therefore restricted to specific circumstances including when the tectonic loading rate is particularly low, such as along secondary plate boundary fault structures, when the nontectonic loading rate is particularly high, such as in the case of catastrophic flooding events, or when the fault in question is already critically stressed to a near-failure level. Stresses from local topography are calculated along the global mid-ocean ridge and along the Chilean subduction megathrust. The predicted orientations of these stresses are compared to a presumed ridge-normal and transform-strike-slip faulting regime or the focal mechanism of a single large earthquake, respectively. Quantitative constraints for the coincident tectonic stresses are subsequently established with implications for the strength of the plate boundary faults and the necessity of particular topographic and bathymetric features.

  19. Late Miocene to recent plate tectonic history of the southern Central America convergent margin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morell, Kristin D.

    2015-10-01

    New plate reconstructions constrain the tectonic evolution of the subducting Cocos and Nazca plates across the southern Central American subduction zone from late Miocene to recent. Because of the strong relationships between lower and upper (Caribbean) plate dynamics along this margin, these constraints have wide-ranging implications for the timing and growth of upper plate deformation and volcanism in southern Central America. The reconstructions outline three important events in the Neogene history of this margin: (1) the coeval development of the Panama Triple Junction with the initiation of oblique subduction of the Nazca plate at ˜8.5 Ma; (2) the initiation of seamount and rough crust subduction beginning at ˜3-4 Ma; and (3) Cocos Ridge subduction from ˜2 to 3 Ma. A comparison of these events with independent geologic, geomorphic, volcanic, and stratigraphic data sets reveals that the timing, rates, and origin of subducting crust directly impacted the Neogene growth of upper plate deformation and volcanism in southern Central America. These analyses constrain the timing, geometry, and causes of a number of significant tectonic and volcanic processes, including rapid Plio-Quaternary arc-fore arc contraction due to Cocos Ridge subduction, the detachment of the Panama microplate at ˜1-3 Ma, and the late Miocene cessation of mantle-wedge-derived volcanism across ˜300 km of the subduction zone.

  20. The transpressive tectonics and large earthquake distribution along the plate boundary in North Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meghraoui, Mustapha; Pondrelli, Silvia

    2010-05-01

    The Tell Atlas and Rif Mountains of northern Africa have been the site of several large and moderate seismic events in the last decades. However, the thrust and fold system of NW Algeria experienced the largest earthquakes in the last centuries along the Africa-Eurasia plate boundary. This shallow seismic activity was very often associated with surface faulting and deformation as for the Mw 7.3 El Asnam (10/10/1980) and the Mw 6.8 Zemmouri-Boumerdes (21/05/2003) earthquakes. We study the active tectonics along the plate boundary in North Africa from the seismicity database, individual large and moderate earthquakes, the seismic moment tensor summation, the geodetic measurements (GPS and InSAR) and the structural and kinematic of active faults. Neotectonic structures and significant seismicity (Mw>5) indicate that coeval east-west trending right-lateral faulting and NE-SW thrust-related folding result from the oblique convergence at the plate boundary. A simple modeling of block tectonics suggests that transpression and block rotation govern the mechanics of the Africa - Eurasia plate boundary in the Tell Atlas and Rif Mountains. The tectonic restraining bend of NW Algeria combined with the ~ 5 mm/yr convergence between Africa and Eurasia justify the large seismic activity on the thrust and fold system of the Tell Atlas and the relatively passive active deformation along the adjacent sections of the plate boundary.

  1. Plate tectonics simulations using reduced viscosity contrasts - The simple approach?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noack, L.; Breuer, D.

    2012-04-01

    In the last decades, more and more studies focussed on the simulation of plate tectonics for Earth and other terrestrial planets inside and outside the solar system. But only the recent development of new robust codes (e.g. GAIA [1] or RHEA [2]) and the usage of super-computers shifted the investigation of planetary mantles into more realistic regimes. One of the problems that many codes still cannot handle is the large viscosity contrast (global or local cell-to-cell contrasts) expected for terrestrial planets and the viscosity is typically simplified [3]. On Earth, the expected contrast varies with 10 or more orders of magnitude. On planets with higher mantle temperatures (e.g. as can be expected for young super-Earths), this viscosity contrast may be even higher with steeper viscosity gradients at the lower boundary of the lithosphere. To solve this problem one can either use a larger nondimensional surface temperature in the Arrhenius viscosity law (or analogously a smaller activation energy) or linearize the exponent of the viscosity, leading to the so-called Frank-Kamenetskii approximation. Several codes use one of these two approximations to be able to simulate terrestrial planets and try to investigate the trend of the likeliness of processes like plate tectonics, depending on factors as surface temperature, internal heating, or mantle thickness. However, our findings propose that the trends observed with these viscosity approximations differ from the ones obtained with the Newtonian Arrhenius law. The first observation is that the approximations lead more easily to plate tectonics than the Arrhenius law. In addition, the dependence of the critical yield stress (i.e. where the transition from plate-tectonics regime to stagnant-lid regime takes place) on the Rayleigh number strongly differs, and the plate tectonics regime is much more easily obtained than for the Arrhenius viscosity. The difference increases with planetary radius. Note, that a more realistic

  2. Structural regularities in the lithosphere of continents and plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pavlenkova, N. I.

    1995-03-01

    Two fundamental, but competing earth science concepts have been under discussion in Russia. The first one, that of endogenous regimes, is based on the assumption that permanent vertical relationships or long-term interactions between the crust and upper mantle control crustal evolution. Significant horizontal movements of the lithosphere, as required by the second concept, that of global plate tectonics, would destroy these crust-mantle interactions. Certain regular features of the crust and upper mantle support the endogenous regime concept and are difficult to explain in terms of conventional plate tectonics. In particular, the close correlation between near-surface features and deep (> 400 km) mantle inhomogeneities suggests that many geological structures are deeply rooted in the mantle. Moreover, geophysical studies have failed to reveal a well-defined and continuous asthenosphere at relatively shallow depths (˜ 100 km) that would allow lithospheric plates to be transported over large distances, and the rheology of the lithosphere itself is found to be sufficiently inhomogeneous as to cast doubt on the principle of thin rigid plates. In contrast, palaeomagnetic and other data require that horizontal movements of many near-surface geological structures must have taken place. To explain this apparent contradiction, it is suggested here that the crust and its connected deep root are capable of gliding along one of the deep mantle phase transition zones with respect to the inner Earth.

  3. Delivery of volatiles to terrestrial planets during accretion: Setting the stage for plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elkins-Tanton, L.; Tikoo, S.

    2012-04-01

    , leaving water behind in a rapid flux as the dense material sinks. This event will form a kind of "water catastrophe," and would have the potential to partially melt the upper mantle, to produce a damp asthenosphere, and indeed to encourage convection. These results imply that planets in which perovskite is stable, that is, planets that are larger than Mars, are perhaps more likely to have an early initiation of plate tectonics, and that larger planets may have more violent and near-surface mantle volatile releases during any overturn event.

  4. The San Andreas fault experiment. [gross tectonic plates relative velocity

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Smith, D. E.; Vonbun, F. O.

    1973-01-01

    A plan was developed during 1971 to determine gross tectonic plate motions along the San Andreas Fault System in California. Knowledge of the gross motion along the total fault system is an essential component in the construction of realistic deformation models of fault regions. Such mathematical models will be used in the future for studies which will eventually lead to prediction of major earthquakes. The main purpose of the experiment described is the determination of the relative velocity of the North American and the Pacific Plates. This motion being so extremely small, cannot be measured directly but can be deduced from distance measurements between points on opposite sites of the plate boundary taken over a number of years.

  5. The Biggest Plates on Earth. Submarine Ring of Fire--Grades 5-6. Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (DOC), Rockville, MD.

    This activity is designed to teach how tectonic plates move, what some consequences of this motion are, and how magnetic anomalies document the motion at spreading centers do. The activity provides learning objectives, a list of needed materials, key vocabulary words, background information, day-to-day procedures, internet connections, career…

  6. Plate Tectonics on Earth and on Alien Worlds - Novel Insights into Mantle Dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenkovic, V.; Breuer, D.; Seager, S.

    2014-12-01

    We derive the framework of how common assumptions behind parameterized 1D and full convection 2D/3D models, as well as planet mass, interior structure and composition impact the evolution of plate tectonics on Earths and super-Earths. This approach additionally allows us to resolve previous disagreements between groups that studied plate tectonics on super-Earths and to unveil major problems when modeling the thermal evolution of plate tectonics with both 1D and 2D/3D models. How planet properties impact the evolution of plate tectonics is highly sensitive to a planet's initial thermal conditions, the rheology of mantle rock, the scaling of interior heat and yield stress with planet mass, and especially to whether shear or normal stresses drive plate tectonics. Based on the currently most likely model configuration and for planets starting molten, we find that plate tectonics is less likely to occur on super-Earths, for increasing iron and radiogenic heat contents within the mantle, and also with decreasing core to mantle mass fractions. Interestingly, we also find that water within a planet's mantle has a negative impact on plate tectonics and that only surface water can beneficially impact subduction (but not the initiation of plate tectonics). This emphasizes how the distribution and exchange of water between surface and mantle reservoirs are crucial for plate tectonics, and how difficult it is to find positive water-plate tectonics correlations.

  7. Extrusional Tectonics over Plate Corner: an Example in Northern Taiwan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lu, Chia-Yu; Lee, Jian-Cheng; Li, Zhinuo; Lee, Ching-An; Yeh, Chia-Hung

    2016-04-01

    In northern Taiwan, contraction, transcurrent shearing, block rotation and extension are four essential tectonic deformation mechanisms involved in the progressive deformation of this arcuate collision mountain belt. The neotectonic evolution of the Taiwan mountain belt is mainly controlled not only by the oblique convergence between the Eurasian plate and the Philippine Sea plate but also the corner shape of the plate boundary. Based on field observations and analyses, and taking geophysical data (mostly GPS) and experimental modelling into account, we interpret the curved belt of northern Taiwan as a result of of contractional deformation (with compression, thrust-sheet stacking & folding, back thrust duplex & back folding) that induced vertical extrusion, combined with increasing transcurrent & rotational deformation (with transcurrent faulting, bookshelf-type strike-slip faulting and block rotation) that induced transcurrent/rotational extrusion and extension deformation which in turn induced extensional extrusion. As a consequence, a special type of extrusional folds was formed in association with contractional, transcurrent & rotational and extensional extrusions subsequently. The extrusional tectonics in northern Taiwan reflect a single, albeit complicated, regional pattern of deformation. The crescent-shaped mountain belt of Northeastern Taiwan develops in response to oblique indentation by an asymmetric wedge indenter, retreat of Ryukyu trench and opening of the Okinawa trough.

  8. The ERESE Project: Modeling Inquiry-Based Plate Tectonic Lessons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Symons, C. M.; Helly, M.; Helly, J.; Miller, S. P.; Staudigel, H.; Koppers, A.

    2004-12-01

    The Enduring Resources for Earth Science Education (ERESE) project is a collaborative effort between earth scientists, educators, librarians and data archive managers. Its goal is to develop and maintain a persistent online research and education archive in a digital library environment that supports earth science education in plate tectonics. A key to the library's effectiveness as an educational tool is the efficiency with which educators can access, use and contribute to the library. We have created a master template that educators use to develop inquiry-based curriculum. The central components of the master template include a teacher log, a student log and resource matrices. The teacher's log is divided into stages that reflect our approach to inquiry. This approach was used during a workshop as scientists worked with the teachers to model a reasonable pedagogical analog to scientific inquiry. The student log is similar in structure to a scientific method lab report. There are currently 17 resource matrices that directly access canonical education objects in the digital library, 3 of which relate to expedition planning and 14 to plate tectonics. The structure of the resource matrices allows teachers and students to traverse manageable packets of information relating to a specific topic by expert level (rows) and information type (columns). Teachers download and customize the master template using any web composer and are then invited to upload their lessons through a simple interface at Earthref.org. Once uploaded the lessons become part of the ERESE digital library collection. The upload process allows teachers to define keywords and metadata to allow useful searches by topic, concept or educational standard. The use of a single master template for inquiry lesson design means library contributions will share a common format as well as exploit identical plate tectonic resources.

  9. Episodic tectonic plate reorganizations driven by mantle convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    King, Scott D.; Lowman, Julian P.; Gable, Carl W.

    2002-10-01

    Periods of relatively uniform plate motion were interrupted several times throughout the Cenozoic and Mesozoic by rapid plate reorganization events [R. Hey, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 88 (1977) 1404-1420; P.A. Rona, E.S. Richardson, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 40 (1978) 1-11; D.C. Engebretson, A. Cox, R.G. Gordon, Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 206 (1985); R.G. Gordon, D.M. Jurdy, J. Geophys. Res. 91 (1986) 12389-12406; D.A. Clague, G.B. Dalrymple, US Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap. 1350 (1987) 5-54; J.M. Stock, P. Molnar, Nature 325 (1987) 495-499; C. Lithgow-Bertelloni, M.A. Richards, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22 (1995) 1317-1320; M.A. Richards, C. Lithgow-Bertelloni, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 137 (1996) 19-27; C. Lithgow-Bertelloni, M.A. Richards, Rev. Geophys. 36 (1998) 27-78]. It has been proposed that changes in plate boundary forces are responsible for these events [M.A. Richards, C. Lithgow-Bertelloni, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 137 (1996) 19-27; C. Lithgow-Bertelloni, M.A. Richards, Rev. Geophys. 36 (1998) 27-78]. We present an alternative hypothesis: convection-driven plate motions are intrinsically unstable due to a buoyant instability that develops as a result of the influence of plates on an internally heated mantle. This instability, which has not been described before, is responsible for episodic reorganizations of plate motion. Numerical mantle convection experiments demonstrate that high-Rayleigh number convection with internal heating and surface plates is sufficient to induce plate reorganization events, changes in plate boundary forces, or plate geometry, are not required.

  10. Geoid Data and Implications for Plate Tectonic Dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Richardson, R. M.; Coblentz, D. D.

    2013-12-01

    It has long been recognized that the motion of the mechanically rigid lithospheric plates of the earth are the surface expression of large-scale convection in the mantle. It is also accepted that the stresses driving plate motion are an amalgam of the basal tractions associated with this convection and long-wavelength density variations within the plates themselves. Parsing the relative contribution from these two sources to the geodynamics of the lithosphere continues to be an important topic of plate dynamics research. Because geoid anomalies are directly related to the local dipole moment of the density-depth distribution, they provide an ideal method for evaluating density variations within the lithosphere and the associated tectonic stresses. The main challenge with this approach is isolating the lithospheric geoid contribution from the full geoid (which is dominated by sources from deeper in the earth, namely the lower mantle). We address this issue by using a high-pass spherical harmonic filtering of the EGM2008-WGS84 geoid (which is complete to spherical harmonic degree and order 2159), with a cosine taper between orders 9 to 13 and 78 to 82 to produce a 'lithospheric' geoid. In the present study we focus on tectonic implications of the lithospheric geoid in three different areas: 1) passive continental margins where we have evaluated over 150 margin-transects spaced roughly every three degrees. The global average geoid anomaly associated with the transition from old oceanic lithosphere to the continent was found to 6-9 meters and appears to be insensitive to a range of geoid filtering degrees and orders; 2) The geoid highs associated with the mid-ocean ridges and the cooling oceanic lithospheric, where we have examined a number of geoid profiles across ridges and find that previous estimates of a geoid anomaly of 10-15 meters associated with ridges to be valid; and 3) continental regions which are characterized by both elevated geoid anomalies (e.g., the

  11. Ordovician-Silurian tectonism in northern California: The Callahan event

    SciTech Connect

    Cotkin, S.J. )

    1992-09-01

    Middle Ordovician to Early Silurian volcanism, plutonism, metamorphism, deformation, and sedimentation in the Yreka and Trinity terranes, eastern Klamath Mountains, northern California, are considered to be related phenomena that occurred in response to an episode of tectonism known as the Callahan event. A diverse array of evidence is used to construct a tectonic model for the Callahan event that involves a subduction zone, a magnetic arc, and a back-arc spreading center, and to show that tectonism likely occurred within the framework of the North American continental margin. Evidence pertaining to subduction polarity is meager, but is consistent with an eastward dip. The Callahan event represents the earliest Phanerozoic convergent-margin tectonic event recognized within the U.S. Cordillera.

  12. The efficiency of plate tectonics and nonequilibrium dynamical evolution of planetary mantles

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moore, W. B.; Lenardic, A.

    2015-11-01

    Consideration of the structure of dynamical equilibria in terrestrial planets using simplified descriptions of the relevant heat transport processes (rigid-lid convection, plate tectonics, and heat pipe volcanism) reveals that if the efficiency of plate tectonic heat transport decreases at higher mantle temperature, then it cannot govern quasi-equilibrium dynamical evolution, and the system is always evolving away from the plate tectonic regime. A planet on which plate tectonics is less efficient at higher temperature stays in heat pipe mode longer, spends less time undergoing plate tectonics, and has a low and ever-decreasing Urey number during this phase. These conclusions are based solely on the structure of the equilibria in a system with less efficient plate tectonics in the past and are independent of the mechanisms leading to this behavior. Commonly used quasi-equilibrium approaches to planetary thermal evolution are likely not valid for planets in which heat transport becomes less efficient at higher temperature.

  13. On the breakup of tectonic plates by polar wandering

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Liu, H. S.

    1973-01-01

    The observed boundary system of the major tectonic plates on the surface of the earth lends fresh support to the hypothesis of polar wandering. A dynamic model of the outer shell of the earth under the influence of polar shift is developed. The analysis falls into two parts: (1) deriving equations for stresses caused by polar shifting; and (2) deducing the pattern according to which the fracture of the shell can be expected. For stress analysis, the theory of plates and shells is the dominant feature of this model. In order to determine the fracture pattern, the existence of a mathematical theorem of plasticity is recalled: it says that the plastic flow begins to occur when a function in terms of the differences of the three principal stresses surpasses a certain critical value. By introducing the figures for the geophysical constants, this model generates stresses which could produce an initial break in the lithosphere.

  14. Observing tectonic plate motions and deformations from satellite laser ranging

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Christodoulidis, D. C.; Smith, D. E.; Kolenkiewicz, R.; Klosko, S. M.; Torrence, M. H.

    1985-01-01

    The scope of geodesy has been greatly affected by the advent of artificial near-earth satellites. The present paper provides a description of the results obtained from the reduction of data collected with the aid of satellite laser ranging. It is pointed out that dynamic reduction of satellite laser ranging (SLR) data provides very precise positions in three dimensions for the laser tracking network. The vertical components of the stations, through the tracking geometry provided by the global network and the accurate knowledge of orbital dynamics, are uniquely related to the center of mass of the earth. Attention is given to the observations, the methodologies for reducing satellite observations to estimate station positions, Lageos-observed tectonic plate motions, an improved temporal resolution of SLR plate motions, and the SLR vertical datum.

  15. Plate tectonics from VLBI and SLR global data

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Harrison, Christopher G. A.; Robaudo, Stefano

    1992-01-01

    This study is based on data derived from fifteen years of observations of the SLR (side-looking radar) network and six years of the VLBI (very long baseline interferometry) network. In order to use all available information VLBI and SLR global data sets were combined in a least squares fashion to calculate station horizontal velocities. All significant data pertaining to a single site contribute to the station horizontal motion. The only constraint on the solution is that no vertical motion is allowed. This restriction does not greatly affect the precision of the overall solution given the fact that the expected vertical motion for most stations, even those experiencing post glacial uplift, is well under 1 cm/yr. Since the average baseline is under 4,000 km, only a small fraction of the station vertical velocity is translated into baseline rates so that the error introduced in the solution by restricting up-down station movement is minimal. As a reference, station velocities were then compared to the ones predicted by the NUVEL-1 geological model of DeMets et al. (1990). The focus of the study is on analyzing these discrepancies for global plate tectonics as well as regional tectonic settings. The method used also allows us not only to derive horizontal motion for individual stations but also to calculate Euler vectors for those plates that have enough stations located on the stable interior like North America, Pacific, Eurasia, and Australia.

  16. A model for plate tectonic evolution of mantle layers.

    PubMed

    Dickinson, W R; Luth, W C

    1971-10-22

    In plate tectonic theory, lithosphere that descends into the mantle has a largely derivative composition, because it is produced as a refractory residue by partial melting, and cannot be resorbed readily by the parent mantle. We suggest that lithosphere sinks through the asthenosphere, or outer mantle, and accumulates progressively beneath to form an accretionary mesosphere, or inner mantle. According to this model, there is an irreversible physicochemical evolution of the mantle and its layers. We make the key assumption that the rate at which mass has been transferred from the lithosphere to the mesosphere is proportional to the rate of radiogenic heat production. Calculations of mass transfer with time demonstrate that the entire mass of the present mesosphere could have been produced in geologically reasonable times (3 x 10(9) to 4.5 x 10(9) years). The model is consistent with the generation of the continental crust during the last 3 x 1O(9) years and predicts an end to plate tectonic behavior within the next 10(9) years. PMID:17796091

  17. Paleomap PC: Plate tectonic reconstructions on IBM compatible computers

    SciTech Connect

    Walsh, D.B.; Scotese, C.R. . Dept. Geology)

    1993-02-01

    PALEOMAP-PC (PMAPPC) allows users to interactively view Phanerozoic plate reconstructions on IBM compatible personal computers. This software compliments Macintosh and Unix software developed to conjunction with the PALEOMAP Project at the University of Texas at Arlington. The past positions of the continents can be viewed on the PC monitor in a variety of map projections including the spherical projection which gives a 3-D perspective of the Earth. Once a reconstruction time has been entered, the total finite rotations for over 150 independently moving plates are calculated and the plates are rotated back through time and drawn in reconstructed coordinates. The user can zoom in and out focusing on particular areas of interest. Hard copy output is available to a variety of output devices, both as a screen dump utility and as a selected option within the program. Although visualizing continental configurations through time is the core of the program, its primary strength is that user-defined data, such as stratigraphic or structural data, can be incorporated and plotted on reconstructed basemaps. This allows the time aspect of all geological data to be united with other user-supplied data within the plate tectonic framework.

  18. Using the Mesozoic History of the Canadian Cordillera as a Case Study in Teaching Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Chamberlain, Valerie Elaine

    1989-01-01

    Reviews a model used in the teaching of plate tectonics which includes processes and concepts related to: terranes and the amalgamation of terranes, relative plate motion and oblique subduction, the effects of continent-continent collision, changes in plate motion, plate configuration, and the type of plate boundary. Diagrams are included.…

  19. Modelling continental deformation within global plate tectonic reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, S.; Whittaker, J.; Heine, C.; Müller, P.

    2010-12-01

    A limitation of regional and global plate tectonic models is the way continental deformation is represented. Continental blocks are typically represented as rigid polygons - overlaps or gaps between adjacent continental blocks represent extension or compression respectively. Full-fit reconstructions of major ocean basins result in large overlaps between the conjugate continental plates, on the basis that the continental margins are highly extended compared to their pre-rift state. A fundamental challenge in generating more robust global-scale plate reconstructions is the incorporation of a more quantitative description of the kinematics within extended passive margins, based on observations. We have used the conjugate Southern Australia and Wilkes Land, Antarctica margins as a case study, and as part of this work have generated revised sediment thickness maps for these margins. These datasets are used to test different approaches for generating full-fit reconstructions in order to create a framework of methodologies that is globally applicable. One approach is to restore two conjugate continent-ocean boundaries (COBs) to their pre-rift configuration and then use the geometric fitting method of Hellinger (1981) and Royer and Chang (1991), used to generate fits of seafloor isochrons, to generate a “full-fit” Euler pole. To quantitatively restore the COBs to their palinspastic pre-rift configuration we integrate estimates of crustal thickness along small circle paths, defined by an initial estimate of the Euler stage pole describing plate motions during continental rifting. We then use the conjugate sets of restored COB’s as inputs to the geometric fitting method, treating them as isochrons, and so generate poles of rotation for the plate configuration prior to rifting. Two potential shortcomings of this methodology are that (1) the conjugate margins are treated independently, whereas in reality they were actually one continuous continental basin during rifting

  20. Precambrian Plate Tectonics and the Formation of the Canadian Shield: Seismic Evidence from Hudson Bay

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bastow, I. D.; Thompson, D. A.; Kendall, J. M.; Helffrich, G. R.; Wookey, J.; Snyder, D. B.; Eaton, D. W.; Darbyshire, F. A.

    2010-12-01

    The Canadian Shield is one of the largest exposures of Precambrian rocks on Earth. It is a mosaic of several Archean terranes that were brought together during a series of Paleoproterozoic orogens culminating in the so-called Trans-Hudson Orogen (THO), which is thought to have been similar to the Himalayan orogen in scale and nature. The tectonic evolution and lithospheric subdivisions of this region are poorly understood, but new seismic networks in northern Hudson Bay provide fresh information sources to place constraints on the Precambrian processes that formed and shaped it. Using data from a network of 12 broadband seismic stations in the northern part of Hudson Bay that complement existing POLARIS and CNSN networks in the region, we report on a combined study of seismic anisotropy, travel-time tomography, and receiver functions. While tomographic images reveal no clear seismological distinction between Archean and Proterozoic mantle, results from the study of seismic anisotropy show that much of the northern Hudson Bay region retains a strong signature of Archean-to-Paleoproterozoic tectonics - in particular the THO. The receiver function study also provides evidence in support of this 1.8 Ga orogenic event, but the simplicity of crustal structure in the oldest terranes as well as the scale of orogenic belts provides little evidence in support modern-day-style plate tectonics. When reviewed in light of age and compositional constraints from the geological record, our seismic observations point towards a secular change from non-plate tectonic deformation during the Paleo- to Mesoarchean evolving towards fully-developed modern-style plate tectonic interactions during the Paleoproterozoic.

  1. Prototypical Concepts and Misconceptions of Plate Tectonic Boundaries

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sibley, D. F.; Patino, L. C.

    2003-12-01

    Students of geology encounter many prototypical/exemplar concepts* that include representative, but not necessarily defining, features and characteristics. This study of students' prototypical representations of plate tectonic boundaries indicates that their representations are rich sources of information about their misconceptions about plate tectonics. After lectures in plate tectonics and mountain building, 353 students in a general education geology class were asked to draw a continent-continent convergent boundary. For this study, a correct answer is defined as having the major features in correct proportions as depicted in the plate boundary diagrams on the USGS web. Fifty-two percent of the drawings were either incorrect or incomplete such that they could not be interpreted. Only 48% were readily interpretable, and of these 22% drew the boundary correctly, showing a thickening of crust where two continents collide. Thirty-three percent drew the boundary showing concave slabs of continental crust as one might imagine two pieces of firm rubber pushed together on a rigid surface and 45% depicted mountains as one might imagine inverted ice cream cones on a rigid plank. Twenty-one senior class geology majors and graduate students were given the same assignment. Forty-eight percent rendered a correct drawing, whereas 38% drew the same ice cream cone on a plank type picture that 45% of the general education students drew. In a second class of 12 geology majors, only 1 student drew a cross section of a continent-ocean boundary similar to standard representation. Four of 12 drew mountains on the top of continental crust over a subduction zone but did not draw a compensating mass within the crust or lithosphere. Prototypical drawings provide more information about students' concepts than do most multiple-choice questions. For example, sixty-two percent of theses students who drew mountains similar to foam rubber pads pushed together on a desk or ice cream cones on a

  2. Plate tectonics beyond plate boundaries: the role of ancient structures in intraplate orogenesis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heron, Philip; Pysklywec, Russell; Stephenson, Randell

    2015-04-01

    The development of orogens that occur at a distance from plate boundaries (i.e., `intraplate' deformation) cannot be adequately explained through conventional plate tectonic theory. Intraplate deformation infers a more complex argument for lithospheric and mantle interaction than plate tectonic theory allows. As a result, the origins of intraplate orogenesis are enigmatic. One hypothesis is the amalgamation of continental material (i.e., micro-plates) leaves inherent scars on the crust and mantle lithosphere. Previous studies into continent-continent collisions identify a number of scenarios from accretionary tectonics that affect the crust and mantle (namely, the development of a Rayleigh-Taylor instability, lithospheric underplating, lithospheric delamination, and lithospheric subduction). Any of these processes may weaken the lithosphere allowing episodic reactivation of faults within continental interiors. Hence, continental convergence (i.e., shortening) at a time after continental collision may cause the already weakened crust and mantle lithosphere to produce intraplate deformation. In order to better understand the processes involved in deformation away from plate boundaries, we present suites of continental shortening models (using the high-resolution thermal-mechanical modelling code SOPALE) to identify the preferred style of deformation. We model ancient structures by applying weak subduction scarring, changing the rheological conditions, and modifying the thermal structure within the lithosphere. To highlight the role of surface processes on plate and lithosphere deformation, the effect of climate-driven erosion and deposition on the tectonic structure of intraplate deformation is also addressed. We explore the relevance of the models to previously studied regions of intraplate orogenesis, including the Pyrenees in Europe, the Laramide orogen in North America, Tien Shan orogen in Central Asia, and Central Australia. The findings of the simulations with

  3. Emerging Possibilities and Insuperable Limitations of Exogeophysics: The Example of Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenković, Vlada; Seager, Sara

    2016-07-01

    To understand the evolution and the habitability of any rocky exoplanet demands detailed knowledge about its geophysical state and history—such as predicting the tectonic mode of a planet. Yet no astronomical observation can directly confirm or rule out the occurrence of plate tectonics on a given exoplanet. Moreover, the field of plate tectonics is still young—questioning whether we should study plate tectonics on exoplanets at this point in time. In this work, we determine the limitations and the emerging possibilities of exogeophysics, the science of connecting geophysics to exoplanets, on the example of plate tectonics. Assuming current uncertainties in model and planet parameters, we develop a qualitatively probabilistic and conservative framework to estimate on what kind of planets and where in the Galaxy plate tectonics might occur. This we achieve by modeling how plate yielding, the most critical condition needed for plate mobility and subduction, is affected by directly observable (planet mass, size) or indirectly, to some degree, assessable planet properties (structure and composition). Our framework not only highlights the importance of a planet’s chemistry for the existence of plate tectonics and the path toward practical exogeophysics but also demonstrates how exoplanet science can actually help to better understand geophysics and the fundamentals of plate tectonics on Earth itself.

  4. The stepwise growth of tectonic plates across Earth's evolving supercontinent cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Van Kranendonk, M. J.; Kirkland, C. L.

    2012-04-01

    Plate tectonics both creates and recycles crust, but the rate of continental growth over Earth history remains contentious: some believe it formed fast and early, others more gradually and, perhaps, episodically, through the supercontinent cycle. Time constrained analysis of both oxygen and hafnium isotopes in zircon grains and incompatible elements (Zr, Th) from magmatic rocks confirms the importance of Earth's supercontinent cycle not only on the degree of crustal recycling rates that arises from the aggregation and dispersal of supercontinents, but also on mantle temperatures, crustal growth rates, and climatic conditions. These changes are used to infer a conditioned duality of the Earth system between alternating periods of hot and cold mantle that arise in response to the supercontinent cycle. Hot mantle periods that accompany supercontinent aggregation events are characterised by mantle superplume events, increased crustal recycling and warm, reducing climatic conditions. Cool mantle periods during supercontinent rifting result from core insulation by slab graveyards and are characterised by low rates of crust production and cool, more oxidizing conditions. Changes in the intensity of the orogenic cycle through time since its inception at c. 3.2 Ga are ascribed to self-reorganisation of progressively larger tectonic plates (tessellation of a sphere) that accommodate the secular decrease in planetary heat. Bursts of crust extraction during Neoarchean and Mesoproterozoic supercontinent assembly led to overstep periods of large plates on subduction-cooled, melt-depleted mantle, accompanied by global ice ages. Optimal packing (pentagonal dodecahedron) of the plates was attained on dispersal of Nuna at 1.4 Ga, leading to a peak in geochemical and isotopic proxies of orogenic intensity during c. 1.2 Ga assembly of Rodinia (large plates on warmer Earth), with declining intensity thereafter as a function of decreasing heat with same-size plates.

  5. Plate Tectonics: From Initiation of Subduction to Global Plate Motions (Augustus Love Medal Lecture)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gurnis, Michael

    2013-04-01

    Plates are driven by buoyancy forces distributed in the mantle, within cooling oceanic plates (ridge push) and within subducted slabs. Although the case is often made that subducted slabs provide the principle driving force on plate motion, consensus has not been achieved. This is at least partially due to the great difficulty in realistically capturing the role of slabs in observationally-constrained models as slabs act to drive and resist plate motions through their high effective viscosity. Slab buoyancy acts directly on the edge of the plate (slab pull), while inducing mantle flow that tends to drag both subducting and overriding plates toward the trench. While plates bend during subduction they undergo a form of 'plastic failure' (as evident through faulting, seismicity and reduction of flexural parameters at the outer trench wall). The birth of a new subduction zone, subduction initiation, provides important insight into plate motions and subduction dynamics. About half of all subduction zones initiated over the Cenozoic and the geophysical and geological observations of them provide first order constraints on the mechanics of how these margins evolved from their preexisting tectonic state to self-sustaining subduction. We have examples of subduction initiation at different phases of the initiation process (e.g. early versus late) as well as how margins have responded to different tectonic forcings. The consequences of subduction initiation are variable: intense trench roll back and extensive boninitic volcanism followed initiation of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc while both were absent during Aleutian arc initiation. Such differences may be related to the character of the preexisting plates, the size of and forces on the plates, and how the lithosphere was initially bending during initiation. I will address issues associated with the forces driving plate tectonics and initiating new subduction zones from two perspectives. A common thread is the origin and

  6. Plate Tectonics and Taiwan Orogeny based on TAIGER Experiments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wu, F. T.; Kuochen, H.; McIntosh, K. D.

    2014-12-01

    Plate tectonics framework is usually complex in a collision zone, where continental lithosphere is involved. In the young Taiwan orogeny, with geologic understanding and large new geodetic and subsurface datasets now available an environment has been created for testing tectonic hypotheses regarding collision and orogeny. Against the background of the commonly accepted view of Taiwan as a southward propagating, self-similar 2-D orogen, a fully 3-D structure is envisaged. Along the whole length of the island the convergence of the Eurasian plate (EUP) the Philippine Sea plate (PSP) takes shape with different plate configurations. In northern Taiwan the convergence occurs with simultaneous collision of the oceanic PSP with continental EUP and the northward subduction of the PSP; in the south, EUP, in the guise of the South China Sea rifted Eurasian continent, subducts toward the east; in central Taiwan collision of oceanic PSP with continental EUP dominates. When relocated seismicity and focal mechanisms are superposed on subsurface P and Vp/Vs velocity images the configurations and the kinematics of the PSP and EUP collision and subduction become clear. While in northern Taiwan the subduction/collision explains well the high peaks and their dwindling (accompanied by crustal thinning) toward the north. In the south, mountains rise above the east-dipping EUP subduction zone as the Eurasian continental shelf veers toward the southwest, divergent from the trend of the Luzon Arc - calling into question the frequently cited arc-continent collision model of Taiwan orogeny. High velocity anomaly and Benioff seismicity coexist in the south. Going north toward Central Taiwan the high velocity anomaly persists for another 150 km or so, but it becomes seismically quiescent. Above the quiescent section the PSP and EUP collide to build the main part of the Central Range and its parallel neighbor the eastern Coastal Range. Key implications regarding orogeny include: 1) Significant

  7. Tsunamis from Tectonic Sources along Caribbean Plate Boundaries

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lopez, A. M.; Chacon, S.; Zamora, N.; Audemard, F. A.; Dondin, F. J. Y.; Clouard, V.; Løvholt, F.; Harbitz, C. B.; Vanacore, E. A.; Huerfano Moreno, V. A.

    2015-12-01

    The Working Group 2 (WG2) of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS) in charge of Tsunami Hazards Assessment, has generated a list of tsunami sources for the Caribbean region. Simulating these worst-case, most credible scenarios would provide an estimate of the resulting effects on coastal areas within the Caribbean. In the past few years, several publications have addressed this issue resulting in a collection of potential tsunami sources and scenarios. These publications come from a wide variety of sources; from government agencies to academic institutions. Although these provide the scientific community with a list of sources and scenarios, it was the interest of the WG2 to evaluate what has been proposed and develop a comprehensive list of sources, therefore leaving aside proposed scenarios. The seismo-tectonics experts of the Caribbean within the WG2 members were tasked to evaluate comprehensively which published sources are credible, worst-cases, and consider other sources that have been omitted from available reports. Among these published sources are the GEM Faulted Earth Subduction Characterization Project, and the LANTEX/Caribe Wave annual exercise publications (2009-2015). Caribbean tectonic features capable of generating tsunamis from seismic dislocation are located along the Northeastern Caribbean, the Lesser Antilles Trench, and the Panamá and Southern Caribbean Deformed Belts. The proposed sources have been evaluated based on historical and instrumental seismicity as well as geological and geophysical studies. This paper presents the sources and their justification as most-probable tsunami sources based on the context of crustal deformation due to Caribbean plate interacting with neighboring North and South America plates. Simulations of these sources is part of a subsequent phase in which effects of these tectonically induced tsunamis

  8. Petrogenesis and Tectonic Evolution of Granitic Rocks in The Northern Margin of North China Plate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xu, X.; Zhao, Q.; Zheng, C.; Liu, W.; Xu, B.

    2010-12-01

    The late Paleozoic-early Mesozoic granites in Daqingshan district of the northern margin of north China plate is classified into six types as follows.Aguigou intrusion is consists of gabbro, diorite, quartz diorite, and granodiorite.Its feature is rich in mafic compositions.The formation age is 284.5±2.9Ma or 283.7±3.7Ma for the quartz diorite, and 281.1±3.4Ma for granodiorite. The genesis of the intrusion belongs to I-type granite. Laoyinhada intrusion comprises fine biotite monzonitic granite and porphyritic biotite monzonitic granite. The age is 272±4Ma for the fine biotite monzonitic granite. The genesis of the body is I-type granite.Halaheshao intrusion is a group of medium-coarse biotite-bearing monzonitic granites and large porphyritic-bearing monzonitic granite. The age is 260±0.5Ma for the biotite-bearing monzonitic granite.The tectonic environment belongs to post-orogenic granites.Taolegai intrusion consists of medium-fine granite, medium-coarse granite, porphyritic-bearing granite, and fine granite. The age is 224±3Ma for medium-coarse granite.Its genesis is light color granite co-occurred with muscovite peraluminous granites. The tectonic environment belongs to post-orogenic granites.Gechoushan intrusion is medium-fine monzonitic granite, a kind of typical muscovite granites. Its formation era is late Triassic. The tectonic environment belongs to post-orogenic granite.Shadegai intrusion is mainly composed of biotite granites. The age is 211.2±0.7Ma for medium-coarse biotite granite. The tectonic setting belongs to post-orogenic granites. The different types granites in the area basically reveal all the magmatic events from late Palaeozoic orogeny, to post-orogeny, and to intracontinental orogeny in the north edge of the north China plate. Early Permian Aguigou intrusion is a magmatic arc granite, formed in the continental edge in the early period of the middle Asia ocean plate subduction. Mid-Permian Laoyinhada intrusion is a magmatic arc granite

  9. Grain-damage hysteresis and plate tectonic states

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, David; Ricard, Yanick

    2016-04-01

    Shear localization in the lithosphere is an essential ingredient for understanding how and why plate tectonics is generated from mantle convection on terrestrial planets. The theoretical model for grain-damage and pinning in two-phase polycrystalline rocks provides a frame-work for understanding lithospheric shear weakening and plate-generation, and is consistent with laboratory and field observations of mylonites. Grain size evolves through the competition between coarsening, which drives grain-growth, and damage, which drives grain reduction. The interface between crystalline phases controls Zener pinning, which impedes grain growth. Damage to the interface enhances the Zener pinning effect, which then reduces grain-size, forcing the rheology into the grain-size-dependent diffusion creep regime. This process thus allows damage and rheological weakening to co-exist, providing a necessary positive self-weakening feedback. Moreover, because pinning inhibits grain-growth it promotes shear-zone longevity and plate-boundary inheritance. However, the suppression of interface damage at low interface curvature (wherein inter-grain mixing is inefficient and other energy sinks of deformational work are potentially more facile) causes a hysteresis effect, in which three possible equilibrium grain-sizes for a given stress coexist: (1) a stable, large-grain, weakly-deforming state, (2) a stable, small-grain, rapidly-deforming state analogous to ultramylonites, and (3) an unstable, intermediate grain-size state perhaps comparable to protomylonites. A comparison of the model to field data suggests that shear-localized zones of small-grain mylonites and ultra-mylonites exist at a lower stress than the co-existing large-grain porphyroclasts, rather than, as predicted by paleopiezometers or paleowattmeters, at a much higher stress; this interpretation of field data thus allows localization to relieve instead of accumulate stress. The model also predicts that a lithosphere that

  10. Plate tectonics on the Earth triggered by plume-induced subduction initiation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gerya, T. V.; Stern, R. J.; Baes, M.; Sobolev, S. V.; Whattam, S. A.

    2015-11-01

    Scientific theories of how subduction and plate tectonics began on Earth—and what the tectonic structure of Earth was before this—remain enigmatic and contentious. Understanding viable scenarios for the onset of subduction and plate tectonics is hampered by the fact that subduction initiation processes must have been markedly different before the onset of global plate tectonics because most present-day subduction initiation mechanisms require acting plate forces and existing zones of lithospheric weakness, which are both consequences of plate tectonics. However, plume-induced subduction initiation could have started the first subduction zone without the help of plate tectonics. Here, we test this mechanism using high-resolution three-dimensional numerical thermomechanical modelling. We demonstrate that three key physical factors combine to trigger self-sustained subduction: (1) a strong, negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere; (2) focused magmatic weakening and thinning of lithosphere above the plume; and (3) lubrication of the slab interface by hydrated crust. We also show that plume-induced subduction could only have been feasible in the hotter early Earth for old oceanic plates. In contrast, younger plates favoured episodic lithospheric drips rather than self-sustained subduction and global plate tectonics.

  11. Plate tectonics on the Earth triggered by plume-induced subduction initiation.

    PubMed

    Gerya, T V; Stern, R J; Baes, M; Sobolev, S V; Whattam, S A

    2015-11-12

    Scientific theories of how subduction and plate tectonics began on Earth--and what the tectonic structure of Earth was before this--remain enigmatic and contentious. Understanding viable scenarios for the onset of subduction and plate tectonics is hampered by the fact that subduction initiation processes must have been markedly different before the onset of global plate tectonics because most present-day subduction initiation mechanisms require acting plate forces and existing zones of lithospheric weakness, which are both consequences of plate tectonics. However, plume-induced subduction initiation could have started the first subduction zone without the help of plate tectonics. Here, we test this mechanism using high-resolution three-dimensional numerical thermomechanical modelling. We demonstrate that three key physical factors combine to trigger self-sustained subduction: (1) a strong, negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere; (2) focused magmatic weakening and thinning of lithosphere above the plume; and (3) lubrication of the slab interface by hydrated crust. We also show that plume-induced subduction could only have been feasible in the hotter early Earth for old oceanic plates. In contrast, younger plates favoured episodic lithospheric drips rather than self-sustained subduction and global plate tectonics. PMID:26560300

  12. Application of plate tectonics concepts in hydrocarbon exploration: Hokkaido Corner

    SciTech Connect

    Sabitay, A.; Shirley, J.

    1986-07-01

    An area prospective for hydrocarbon production is located offshore from south-central Hokkaido in northern Japan. The sediments there are contained in a forearc basin associated with the Japan-Kurile subduction system to the east. At the juncture of the Japan and Kurile Trenches, a major change in direction, associated with a transverse fault, is referred to as the Hokkaido Corner. The transverse fault is known to disrupt the subducting slab from measurements and studies of earthquake foci and focal mechanisms. The prospective forearc basin overlies the disrupted subducting slab, establishing a probable wrench-fault system. The history of deformation in the basin has been related to the northwesterly movement of the Pacific oceanic plate and its subduction under the Japanese Island arc. Seaward-dipping, stacked thrust sheets were found in wells drilled in the forearc basin. These sheets have been explained as resulting as resulting from gravity sliding of mountains at the eastern basin margin. The mountains formed as an uplifted belt above the toe of the continental mass overlying the subducting slab west of the Japan-Kurile Trenches. Further complications involve a history of submarine canyon erosion, wrench faulting, volcanic activity, and rapid uplift and subsidence with consequent complex sedimentation. Gravity, magnetics, seismic, well, and petrophysics information were integrated in order to interpret this area. Several localities in and near Australia are described where an interpretation using plate tectonics concepts is indicated.

  13. Towards implementing plate tectonics in 3D mantle convection simulations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bollada, Peter; Davies, Huw

    2010-05-01

    One of the great challenges in numerical mantle convection simulations is to achieve models that naturally develop plate tectonic like behaviour at the surface. In this work we are looking to achieve such models by investigating the set of models where a single consistent rheology is used for the whole model. We have started by investigating a viscoelastic rheology, related to the Oldroyd-B model from the field of polymers. The goal will be to have the parameter that controls the relaxation between elastic and viscous behaviour to depend upon temperature, pressure and strain-rate. With an appropriate choice of this dependence we have, on the near surface, high viscous/elastic regions interfaced with lower, pure viscous, regions of high strain-rate; while it also becomes more viscous at depth in the interior. In this way we hope to obtain plate like behaviour at the surface which naturally progresses to viscous convective behaviour in the interior. We have started to implement this model in the established mantle 3D finite element spherical mantle convection code TERRA (Baumgardner, 1984). Some parts of the model have been implemented as a force (to be combined with the gravitational body force) on the right hand side. The work has required us to develop and code in TERRA: (i) methods to overcome the continuity problem of the stress field stemming from the fact that the velocity field is represented by linear finite elements; (ii) new operators to handle stress and its gradients; (iii) methods to analyse plate-like behaviour at the surface (iv) the necessary functional dependence of viscosity and elastic relaxation time on temperature, strain-rate and pressure We will present the background to the work, its implementation and results.

  14. Young Tectonic Events in Martian Chaotic Terrain

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martel, L. M. V.

    2012-03-01

    Examples of recent tectonic activity and subsidence on Mars are expressed in Aureum Chaos, the area of chaotic terrain east of Valles Marineris. So say researchers who have studied the layered deposits of Aureum Chaos and the cross-cutting relationships between scarps, dunes, and a landslide. Mauro Spagnuolo (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Angelo Rossi (International Space Science Institute and Jacobs University Bremen), Ernst Hauber (German Aerospace Center), and Stephan van Gasselt (Freie Universität Berlin) identified fault-related geomorphic features in remote sensing data, specifically a disrupted landslide that they determine to be less than 1.9 million years old. If indeed very recent activity has occurred along faults in Aureum Chaos, then these may be very important sites for studies related to the circulation of fluid or gas through, or out of, these fractures or fissures. Both geologists and astrobiologists would be interested in the implications for the distribution of water in the crust, the aqueous alteration of minerals, and the potential for microenvironments to harbor or sustain life.

  15. Plate tectonics hiati as the cause of global glaciations: 2. The late Proterozoic 'Snowball Earth'

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Osmaston, M. F.

    2003-04-01

    A fundamental reappraisal of the mechanisms that drive plate tectonics has yielded the remarkable conclusion that, for at least the past 130 Ma, the principal agent has not been ridge-push or slab-pull but a CW-directed torque (probably of electromagnetic origin at the CMB) reaching the deep (>600 km, e.g.[1]) tectospheric keel of the Antarctica craton. Major changes in spreading direction marked both ends of the 122--85 Ma Cretaceous Superchron and started by forming the Ontong Java Plateau. Action of MORs as gearlike linkages has driven Africa and India CCW since Gondwana breakup and continues to drive the Pacific plate CCW. In the Arctic there is now no cratonic keel to pick up any corresponding polar torque, so northern hemisphere plate tectonics is far less active. The thesis of this contribution is that in the Neoproterozoic the lack of cratons at high latitudes would have deprived plate tectonics of this motivation, causing MORs to die (see below) and a major fall in sea-level, leading to global glaciation as outlined in Part 1 for the Huronian events. Like that seen during that first hiatus, dyke-swarm volcanism could have arisen from thermal shrinkage of the global lithosphere, providing CO2 and ash-covering that interrrupted glacial episodes. In oceanic settings this volcanism would have lowered pH and supplied Fe2+ for shallow bio-oxygenic action to deposit as BIF. My multifacet studies of the subduction process convince me that the rapid development of "flat-slab" interface profiles involves the physical removal of hanging-wall material in front of the downbend by basal subduction tectonic erosion (STE). Historically this, and its inferred ubiquity in the Archaean as the precursor to PSM (Part 1), suggests that the required subducting-plate buoyancy is thermal. Accordingly, a redesign [2] of the MOR process has incorporated the heat-containing LVZ as an integral part of the plate and luckily provides a lot more ridge-push to ensure the subduction of

  16. Subduction controls the distribution and fragmentation of Earth’s tectonic plates.

    PubMed

    Mallard, Claire; Coltice, Nicolas; Seton, Maria; Müller, R Dietmar; Tackley, Paul J

    2016-07-01

    The theory of plate tectonics describes how the surface of Earth is split into an organized jigsaw of seven large plates of similar sizes and a population of smaller plates whose areas follow a fractal distribution. The reconstruction of global tectonics during the past 200 million years suggests that this layout is probably a long-term feature of Earth, but the forces governing it are unknown. Previous studies, primarily based on the statistical properties of plate distributions, were unable to resolve how the size of the plates is determined by the properties of the lithosphere and the underlying mantle convection. Here we demonstrate that the plate layout of Earth is produced by a dynamic feedback between mantle convection and the strength of the lithosphere. Using three-dimensional spherical models of mantle convection that self-consistently produce the plate size–frequency distribution observed for Earth, we show that subduction geometry drives the tectonic fragmentation that generates plates. The spacing between the slabs controls the layout of large plates, and the stresses caused by the bending of trenches break plates into smaller fragments. Our results explain why the fast evolution in small back-arc plates reflects the marked changes in plate motions during times of major reorganizations. Our study opens the way to using convection simulations with plate-like behaviour to unravel how global tectonics and mantle convection are dynamically connected. PMID:27309815

  17. Subduction controls the distribution and fragmentation of Earth’s tectonic plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mallard, Claire; Coltice, Nicolas; Seton, Maria; Müller, R. Dietmar; Tackley, Paul J.

    2016-07-01

    The theory of plate tectonics describes how the surface of Earth is split into an organized jigsaw of seven large plates of similar sizes and a population of smaller plates whose areas follow a fractal distribution. The reconstruction of global tectonics during the past 200 million years suggests that this layout is probably a long-term feature of Earth, but the forces governing it are unknown. Previous studies, primarily based on the statistical properties of plate distributions, were unable to resolve how the size of the plates is determined by the properties of the lithosphere and the underlying mantle convection. Here we demonstrate that the plate layout of Earth is produced by a dynamic feedback between mantle convection and the strength of the lithosphere. Using three-dimensional spherical models of mantle convection that self-consistently produce the plate size–frequency distribution observed for Earth, we show that subduction geometry drives the tectonic fragmentation that generates plates. The spacing between the slabs controls the layout of large plates, and the stresses caused by the bending of trenches break plates into smaller fragments. Our results explain why the fast evolution in small back-arc plates reflects the marked changes in plate motions during times of major reorganizations. Our study opens the way to using convection simulations with plate-like behaviour to unravel how global tectonics and mantle convection are dynamically connected.

  18. Pliocene eclogite exhumation at plate tectonic rates in eastern Papua New Guinea.

    PubMed

    Baldwin, Suzanne L; Monteleone, Brian D; Webb, Laura E; Fitzgerald, Paul G; Grove, Marty; Hill, E June

    2004-09-16

    As lithospheric plates are subducted, rocks are metamorphosed under high-pressure and ultrahigh-pressure conditions to produce eclogites and eclogite facies metamorphic rocks. Because chemical equilibrium is rarely fully achieved, eclogites may preserve in their distinctive mineral assemblages and textures a record of the pressures, temperatures and deformation the rock was subjected to during subduction and subsequent exhumation. Radioactive parent-daughter isotopic variations within minerals reveal the timing of these events. Here we present in situ zircon U/Pb ion microprobe data that dates the timing of eclogite facies metamorphism in eastern Papua New Guinea at 4.3 +/- 0.4 Myr ago, making this the youngest documented eclogite exposed at the Earth's surface. Eclogite exhumation from depths of approximately 75 km was extremely rapid and occurred at plate tectonic rates (cm yr(-1)). The eclogite was exhumed within a portion of the obliquely convergent Australian-Pacific plate boundary zone, in an extending region located west of the Woodlark basin sea floor spreading centre. Such rapid exhumation (> 1 cm yr(-1)) of high-pressure and, we infer, ultrahigh-pressure rocks is facilitated by extension within transient plate boundary zones associated with rapid oblique plate convergence. PMID:15372021

  19. Ultraslow, slow, or fast spreading ridges: an interplay between plate tectonics and mantle convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Husson, Laurent; Yamato, Philippe; Bézos, Antoine

    2015-04-01

    Oceanic spreading rates are highly variable. These variations are known to correlate to a variety of surface observables, like magmatic production, heat flow or bathymetry, which lead to classify ridges into fast and slow spreading ridges, but also as the more peculiar ultraslow spreading regime. Here we explore the dynamic relationships between spreading ridges, plate tectonics and mantle flow. For this, we first focus on the thermal signature at deeper levels that we infer from the global S-wave seismic tomography model of Debayle and Ricard (2012). We show that the thermal structure of ridges gradually departs from the half-space cooling model for slow, and above all ultraslow spreading ridges. We also infer that the sub- lithospheric mantle temperature decreases by more than 180K from fast spreading to ultraslow spreading regimes. Both observations indicate that the mantle convection pattern is increasingly altered underneath slow and ultraslow spreading ridges. We suggest that this is due to far-field tectonics on the other ends of lithospheric plates. Not only it modulates the spreading rates but it also alters the convection regime: collisions at active plate boundaries obstruct plate motion and decrease their velocities. We then test this hypothesis using a thermo-mechanical model that represents a convection cell carrying a positively buoyant continental lithosphere on top. The continent gradually drifts away from the spreading ridge, from which the oceanic lithosphere grows and cools while the continent eventually collides at the opposite side. In turn, this event drastically modifies the upper kinematic condition for the convecting mantle that evolves from a mobile lid regime to an almost stagnant lid regime. Implications on spreading ridges are prominent: heat advection is slower than thermal diffusion, which causes the oceanic lithosphere to thicken faster; the oceanic plates get compressed and destabilized by a growing number of small scale transient

  20. Plate tectonics of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Verzhbitsky, E. V.; Kononov, M. V.; Kotelkin, V. D.

    2007-10-01

    Geophysical data on the northern part of the Pacific Ocean were systematized to compile a map of geomagnetic and geothermal studies of the Bering Sea. The absence of reliable data about the formation time of the Bering Sea structures of oceanic and continental origins is noted; this hampered the assessment of the geodynamical processes in the North Pacific. Based on the geophysical data, we estimated the age of the structures of the Bering Sea floor such as the Commander Basin (21 My), the Shirshov Ridge (95 and 33 My in the northern and southern parts, respectively), the Aleutian Basin (70 My), the Vitus Arch (44 My), the Bowers Ridge (30 My), and the Bowers Basin (40 My). These values are confirmed by the geological, geophysical, and kinematic data. A numerical modeling of the formation of extensive regional structures (Emperor Fracture Zone, Chinook Trough, and others) in the Northern Pacific is carried out. A conclusion was made on the basis of the geological and geothermal analysis that the northern and southern parts of the Shirshov Ridge have different geological ages and different tectonic structures. The northern part of the ridge is characterized by an upthrust-nappe terrain origin, while the southern part has originated from a torn-away island arc similar to the origin of the Bowers Ridge. The sea floor of the Aleutian Basin represents a detached part of the Upper Cretaceous Kula plate, on which spreading processes took place in the Vitus Arch area in the Eocene. The final activity phase in the Bering Sea began 21 My B.P. by spreading of the ancient oceanic floor of the Commander Basin. Based on the age estimations of the structures of the Bering Sea floor, the results of the modeling of the process of formation of regional fracture zones and of the geomagnetic, geothermal, tectonic, geological, and structural data, we calculated and compiled a kinematic model (with respect to a hot spot reference system) of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean for 21

  1. Tectonic escape of the Caribbean plate since the Paleocene: a consequence of the Chicxulub meteor impact?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rangin, C.; Martinez-Reyes, J.; Crespy, A.; Zitter, T. A. C.

    2012-04-01

    The debate for Pacific exotic origin versus in situ inter American plate Atlantic origin of the Caribbean plate is active in the scientific community since decades. Independently of the origin of this plate, its fast motion towards the east at a present rate of 2cm/yr is accepted to have been initiated during the early-most Cenozoic. The Paleocene is a key period in the global evolution of Central America mainly marked also by the Chicxulub multiring meteor impact in Yucatan. We question here the genetic relationship between this impact event and the incipient tectonic escape of the Caribbean plate. The mostly recent published models suggest this impact has affected the whole crust down to the Moho, the upper mantle being rapidly and considerably uplifted. The crust was then fragmented 600km at least from the point of impact, and large circular depressions were rapidly filled by clastic sediments from Cantarell to Western Cuba via Chiapas and Belize. North of the impact, the whole Gulf of Mexico was affected by mass gravity sliding, initiated also during the Paleocene in Texas, remaining active in this basin up to present time. South of the impact, in the Caribbean plate, the Yucatan basin was rapidly opened, indicating a fast escape of the crustal material towards the unique free boundary, the paleo-Antilles subduction zone. Shear waves velocity data below the Caribbean plate suggest this crustal tectonic escape was enhanced by the fast eastward flowing mantle supporting a fragmented and stretched crust. The proposed model suggests Chicxulub impact (but also the hypothetic Beata impact) have fragmented brittle crust, then easily drifted towards the east. This could explain the Paleogene evolution of the Caribbean plate largely stretched during its early evolution. Geologically, this evolution could explain the absence of evident Paleogene oblique subduction along the Caribbean plate northern and southern margins, marked only by Mid Cretaceous dragged volcanic

  2. The Earth's Mantle Is Solid: Teachers' Misconceptions About the Earth and Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    King, Chris

    2000-01-01

    Discusses the misconceptions revealed by the teachers' answers and outlines more accurate answers and explanations based on established evidence and uses these to provide a more complete understanding of plate tectonic process and the structure of Earth. (Author/YDS)

  3. Vernal Point and Plate Tectonics: Indo-Australian

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chavez C, Teodosio; Chavez-Sumarriva, Israel; Chavez S, Nadia

    2013-04-01

    A precession coordinate system (eccentricity -100Ka, obliquity -40Ka and precession -25Ka) developed by Milankovicht was the precession of the equinoxes, where the vernal point retrograde 1° every 72 years approximately and enter (0°) into the Aquarius constellation on March 20, 1940. On earth this entry was verify through: a) stability of the magnetic equator in the south central zone of Peru and in the north zone of Bolivia, b) the greater intensity of equatorial electrojet (EEJ) in Peru and Bolivia since 1940. The vernal point is a maximum conductivity sensitive axis in the EEJ given at the equinoxes. There was a relationship between the equatorial electrojet - magnetic equator - crust, and besides there was a long history of studies of coupling between earthquake-ionosphere that can be founded in the following revisions: Liperovsky et al. (1990); Gaivoronskaya (1991); Liperovsky et al. (1992); Parrot et al. (1993); Pulinets et al. (1994) and Gokhberg et al. (1995). In IUGG (2007), Cusco was propose as a prime meridian (72° W == 0°) that was parallel to the Andes; the objective was to synchronize the earth sciences phenomena (e.g. geology, geophysics, etc.). The coordinate system had the vernal point from meridian (72° W == 0°) and March 20, 1940. The retrograde movement of the vernal point was the first precessional degree (2012 = 1940 + 72); from the new prime meridian (72° W == 0°) it has obtained the opposite meridian (72° E == 180°). The first precessional degree (2012) near the meridian (72 ° E) was related to the date of April 11, 2012 where a massive earthquake of 8.6 on the Richter scale, followed by several aftershocks, one of 8.2 degrees struck Indonesia with epicenter near Banda Aceh. Five months after that date, Matthias Delescluse et.al (2012), Han Yue et.al (2012), and Fred F. Pollitz et.al, (2012), explained that the two violent earthquakes would be evidence of a break in the Indo-Australian Plate Tectonics caused earthquakes around

  4. Tectonic tremor locations along the western Mexico subduction zone using stacked waveforms of similar events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schlanser, K. M.; Brudzinski, M. R.; Holtkamp, S. G.; Shelly, D. R.

    2011-12-01

    Tectonic (non-volcanic) tremor is difficult to locate due to its emergent nature, but critical to assess what impact it has on the plate interface slip budget. Tectonic tremor has been observed in Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacán regions of southern Mexico using the MARS seismic network. A semi-automated approach in which analyst-refined relative arrival times are inverted for source locations using a 1-D velocity model has previously produced hundreds of source locations. The results found tectonic tremor shift from near the 50 km contour to the 20 km contour going from east to west, with the latter epicenters hugging the coastline. There is little room between the tectonic tremor and the seismogenic zone for a wide intervening slow slip region like what is seen in other region of the Mexican subduction zone, suggesting a potentially different source process than tremor in other regions. This study seeks to refine the tremor source locations by stacking families of similar events to enhance the signal to noise ratio and bring out clear P- and S-wave arrivals even for low amplitude sources at noisier stations. Well-defined tremor bursts within the Jalisco, Colima, and Michoacán region from previous results are being used to define 6 s template waveforms that are matched to similar waveforms through cross-correlation over the entire duration of recording. After stacking the similar events, the clarified arrival times will be used to refine the source locations. Particular attention will be paid to whether the tremor families form a dipping linear feature consistent with the plate interface and if tremor associated with the Rivera plate is as shallow (~20km) as it appears from previous results.

  5. Plate tectonics on the early Earth: Limitations imposed by strength and buoyancy of subducted lithosphere

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van Hunen, Jeroen; van den Berg, Arie P.

    2008-06-01

    The tectonic style and viability of modern plate tectonics in the early Earth is still debated. Field observations and theoretical arguments both in favor and against the uniformitarian view of plate tectonics back until the Archean continue to accumulate. Here, we present the first numerical modeling results that address for a hotter Earth the viability of subduction, one of the main requirements for plate tectonics. A hotter mantle has mainly two effects: 1) viscosity is lower, and 2) more melt is produced, which in a plate tectonic setting will lead to a thicker oceanic crust and harzburgite layer. Although compositional buoyancy resulting from these thick crust and harzburgite might be a serious limitation for subduction initiation, our modeling results show that eclogitization significantly relaxes this limitation for a developed, ongoing subduction process. Furthermore, the lower viscosity leads to more frequent slab breakoff, and sometimes to crustal separation from the mantle lithosphere. Unlike earlier propositions, not compositional buoyancy considerations, but this lithospheric weakness could be the principle limitation to the viability of plate tectonics in a hotter Earth. These results suggest a new explanation for the absence of ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism (UHPM) and blueschists in most of the Precambrian: early slabs were not too buoyant, but too weak to provide a mechanism for UHPM and exhumation.

  6. A Simple Class Exercise on Plate Tectonic Motion.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bates, Denis E. B.

    1990-01-01

    Presented is an activity in which students construct a model of plate divergence with two sheets of paper to show the separation of two continental plates in a system of spreading ridges and faults. Diagrams and procedures are described. (CW)

  7. Models of convection-driven tectonic plates - A comparison of methods and results

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    King, Scott D.; Gable, Carl W.; Weinstein, Stuart A.

    1992-01-01

    Recent numerical studies of convection in the earth's mantle have included various features of plate tectonics. This paper describes three methods of modeling plates: through material properties, through force balance, and through a thin power-law sheet approximation. The results obtained are compared using each method on a series of simple calculations. From these results, scaling relations between the different parameterizations are developed. While each method produces different degrees of deformation within the surface plate, the surface heat flux and average plate velocity agree to within a few percent. The main results are not dependent upon the plate modeling method and herefore are representative of the physical system modeled.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Müller, R. Dietmar; Seton, Maria; Zahirovic, Sabin; Williams, Simon E.; Matthews, Kara J.; Wright, Nicky M.; Shephard, Grace E.; Maloney, Kayla T.; Barnett-Moore, Nicholas; Hosseinpour, Maral; Bower, Dan J.; Cannon, John

    2016-06-01

    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 among alternative absolute plate motion models, and review global tectonic events. Relatively high mean absolute plate motion rates of approximately 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. An event at ˜100 Ma is most clearly expressed in the Indian Ocean and may reflect the initiation of Andean-style subduction along southern continental Eurasia, whereas an acceleration at ˜80 Ma of mean rates from 6 to 8 cm yr‑1 reflects the initial northward acceleration of India and simultaneous speedups of plates in the Pacific. An event at ˜50 Ma expressed in relative, and some absolute, plate motion changes around the globe and in a reduction of global mean plate speeds from about 6 to 4–5 cm yr‑1 indicates that an increase in collisional forces (such as the India–Eurasia collision) and ridge subduction events in the Pacific (such as the Izanagi–Pacific Ridge) play a significant role in modulating plate velocities.

  9. Miocene uplift of the NE Greenland margin linked to plate tectonics: Seismic evidence from the Greenland Fracture Zone, NE Atlantic.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Døssing, Arne; Japsen, Peter; Watts, Anthony; Nielsen, Tove; Jokat, Wilfried; Thybo, Hans

    2016-04-01

    Tectonic models predict that, following breakup, rift margins undergo only decaying thermal subsidence during their post-rift evolution. However, post-breakup stratigraphy beneath the NE Atlantic shelves shows evidence of regional-scale unconformities, commonly cited as outer margin responses to inner margin episodic uplift, including the formation of coastal mountains. The origin of these events remains enigmatic. We present a seismic reflection study from the Greenland Fracture Zone - East Greenland Ridge (GFZ-EGR) and the NE Greenland shelf. We document a regional intra-Miocene seismic unconformity (IMU), which marks the termination of syn-rift deposition in the deep-sea basins and onset of: (i) thermo-mechanical coupling across the GFZ, (ii) basin compression, and (iii) contourite deposition, north of the EGR. The onset of coupling across the GFZ is constrained by results of 2-D flexural backstripping. We explain the thermo-mechanical coupling and the deposition of contourites by the formation of a continuous plate boundary along the Mohns and Knipovich ridges, leading to an accelerated widening of the Fram Strait. We demonstrate that the IMU event is linked to onset of uplift and massive shelf-progradation on the NE Greenland margin. Given an estimated middle-to-late Miocene (~15-10 Ma) age of the IMU, we speculate that the event is synchronous with uplift of the East and West Greenland margins. The correlation between margin uplift and plate-motion changes further indicates that the uplift was triggered by plate tectonic forces, induced perhaps by a change in the Iceland plume (a hot pulse) and/or by changes in intra-plate stresses related to global tectonics.

  10. Constraints on plate tectonics initiation from scaling laws for single-cell convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wong, Teresa; Solomatov, Viatcheslav S.

    2016-08-01

    The Earth is the only planet known to have plate tectonics, while other planets are covered with a stagnant lid. On the Earth, the initiation of subduction, which is thought to be the fundamental process for plate tectonics initiation, is caused not only by the negative buoyancy of the lithosphere but also by the forces from plate motions. However, for planets which do not have plate tectonics, the very first episode of lithospheric failure has to be caused by forces other than plate motions. Sublithospheric convection has been proposed as a possible mechanism that provides lithospheric instability through inducing stresses in the lithosphere, and lithospheric failure can occur when the yield stress is below a critical value. We test the applicability of scaling laws for the critical yield stress obtained in single-cell convection simulations to strongly time-dependent multi-cell systems. We show that with an appropriate choice of characteristic aspect ratio for the convective system, the scaling laws from single-cell simulations can be used to evaluate the conditions on the terrestrial planets in the inner Solar System for plate tectonics to exist. In agreement with previous studies, the estimated values for critical yield stress and coefficient of friction are much lower than the expected values for the Earth's lithosphere.

  11. Plate tectonic models derived from multiple data sources: Examples from the Arctic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Webb, Peter; Masterton, Sheona; Eue, Dorothea

    2013-04-01

    Plate tectonic reconstructions are a useful tool in the modern exploration industry. A variety of interpretative applications and data sets require robust plate models; specific examples include the rotation of well data to their past locations, analysis of palaeogeographic environments and predictions of properties such as heat flux through time. As plate tectonic reconstructions become more widely used they become more ambitious, pushing further back in time and including older stratigraphic units, often with increasingly complex tectonic histories. Geological data becomes increasingly sparse for these older units, leading to more subjective choices when creating plate models. In our global plate tectonic model we collate data from numerous sources, including geological structure mapping, interpretation and analysis of potential field data and depth to basement maps, palaeomagnetism and geological relationships from published literature. The plate model is strongly interlinked with on-going global studies at Getech, such as palaeoenvironment mapping, palaeotopography and palaeoclimate; direct feedback from these studies is used to refine and test tectonic solutions both within a regional and global framework. Our global plate model is currently undergoing major improvements extending it back to the start of the Permian (300 Ma). This includes updates to oceanic structures and ocean-continent boundaries to better constrain the internal boundaries and fit of the Pangaea supercontinent. The update also includes Permian-Triassic modelling of South East Asia and China, improvements in Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the North American Cordillera and a re-evaluation of our existing Arctic tectonics. These regions also contain feedback from Jurassic palaeoenvironment mapping to improve the current tectonic reconstructions. We present the multi-disciplinary approach to plate modelling with particular focus on North America and the Arctic. Numerous and often conflicting

  12. Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the Bohai Bay Basin and its coupling relationship with Pacific Plate subduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Liang, Jintong; Wang, Hongliang; Bai, Ying; Ji, Xinyuan; Duo, Xuemei

    2016-09-01

    The Bohai Bay Basin is a Mesozoic-Cenozoic rift basin in eastern China. Based mainly on a balanced-section analysis, this study compares the spatio-temporal differences of tectonic evolution in relation to strike-slip faults among different depressions within the basin. In combination with the analysis of subsidence characteristics, the study also attempts to clarify the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the basin and its coupling relationship with the subduction of the Pacific Plate. It was found that: (1) the strike-slip faults were activated generally from south to north and from west to east during the Cenozoic; (2) there is a negative correlation between the intensity of tectonic activity in the Bohai Bay Basin and subduction rate of the Pacific Plate; and (3) the migration direction of the basin depocenters is consistent with the direction of Pacific Plate subduction.

  13. Pacific Rim and Pacific Plate Tectonism Associated With the Hawaiian Emperor Bend

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sterling, A.; Kroenke, L. W.; Wessel, P.; Harada, Y.

    2002-12-01

    Widespread Pacific Rim and Pacific plate tectonism both appear to be closely associated with a pronounced change in Pacific absolute plate motion (APM) that occurred about 43 Ma as revealed by the Hawaiian Emperor Bend. In the Western Pacific prior to the change, as the Pacific plate moved toward the north, Proto Izu -- Bonin -- Mariana (IBM) subduction was already occurring by 49 Ma, perhaps as early as 52 Ma near the northern end of the Proto IBM, evidenced by the emplacement of boninites in the forearc (Cosca et al., 1998). If the Philippine Basin -- Pacific plate circuit is traced though the Coral Sea basin after closing the Ayu and Sorel troughs, it is evident that the alignment of the Proto IBM (Kyushu -- Palau) subduction zone roughly paralleled the Pacific APM during the initiation of subduction. At ~ 43 Ma, Proto-IBM Trench subduction rapidly increased, possibly causing the major change in Pacific (and Australia) APM that produced the prominent bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor chain. This change also produced a the minor bend in the Louisville chain, as the Pacific plate began to move west-northwestward, as well as at least five more noticeable bends in other seamount chains across the Central Pacific. In the Northeastern Pacific, the expansive magmatic activity, which occurred during the early stage of Aleutian Arc growth between 55--50 Ma, began to wane between 45 and 40 Ma (Scholl et al., 1987). After the 43 Ma change in Pacific APM, the Aleutian subduction zone began to accommodate dextral slip at its western end, as well as continuing convergence at its eastern end. To the south, in the Eastern Pacific, Ridge propagation began about 43 Ma both north and south of the Murray FZ (extending southward to the Clarion FZ). Much farther to the south, changes are also apparent in the Pacific -- Antarctic spreading pattern at ~43 Ma. In the Central Pacific, following the 43 Ma change in Pacific plate motion, intraplate subduction began along the Manus -- North

  14. Plate Tectonics: Geodynamic models of evolution of oil and gas bearing basins of Kazakhstan

    SciTech Connect

    Zholtayev, G. )

    1994-07-01

    Five types of sedimentary basins in Kazakhstan have been recognized by using plate tectonics to reinterpret geological and geophysical data: (1) intracontinental, central pre-Caspian, above rift, south pre-Caspian; (2) passive margin, east pre-Caspian; (3) back-arc, Turgan and Sir-Daria; (4) intra-arc, north Kisil-Koum, interior, Tengis and Chu-Sarisiu; and (5) marginal, north Usturt. Paleozoic history of these basins was connected with the spreading and collision of two lithospheric plates: east European and Kazakhstanian, which were separated by the paleo-Ural Ocean. Different tectonic positions of sedimentary basins were the reason for their different oil and gas potential.

  15. Predicting earthquakes along the major plate tectonic boundaries in the Pacific

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Spall, H.

    1978-01-01

    In an article in the last issue of the Earthquake Information Bulletin ("Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics," by Henry Spall), we saw how 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur at the margins of the Earth's major crustal plates. however, when we look at the distribution of earthquakes in detail, we see that a number of nearly aseismic regions, or seismic gaps, can be found along the present-day plate boundaries. Why is this? And can we regard these areas as being more likely to be the sites for future larger earthquakes than those segments of the plate boundaries that have ruptured recently. 

  16. Neogene Caribbean plate rotation and associated Central American tectonic evolution

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wadge, G.; Burke, K.

    1983-01-01

    A theoretical model of the opening of the Cayman Trough is developed on the basis of geological evidence from a wide area. It is proposed that strike slip motion began about 30 Myr ago and proceeded at a rate of 37 + or - 6 mm/yr for a total of 1100 km of relative plate displacement, and that Central America Underwent an anticlockwise rotation with internal plate deformation. Maps of the reconstructed motion are provided.

  17. Barrel organ of plate tectonics - a new tool for outreach and education

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Broz, Petr; Machek, Matěj; Šorm, Zdar

    2016-04-01

    Plate tectonics is the major geological concept to explain dynamics and structure of Earth's outer shell, the lithosphere. In the plate tectonic theory processes in the Earth lithosphere and its dynamics is driven by the relative motion and interaction of lithospheric plates. Geologically most active regions on Earth often correlate with the lithospheric plate boundaries. Thus for explaining the earth surface evolution, mountain building, volcanism and earthquake origin it is important to understand processes at the plate boundaries. However these processes associated with plate tectonics usually require significant period of time to take effects, therefore, their entire cycles cannot be directly observed in the nature by humans. This makes a challenge for scientists studying these processes, but also for teachers and popularizers trying to explain them to students and to the general public. Therefore, to overcome this problem, we developed a mechanical model of plate tectonics enabling demonstration of most important processes associated with plate tectonics in real time. The mechanical model is a wooden box, more specifically a special type of barrel organ, with hand painted backdrops in the front side. These backdrops are divided into several components representing geodynamic processes associated with plate tectonics, specifically convective currents occurring in the mantle, sea-floor spreading, a subduction of the oceanic crust under the continental crust, partial melting and volcanism associated with subduction, a formation of magmatic stripes, an ascent of mantle plume throughout the mantle, a volcanic activity associated with hot spots, and a formation and degradation of volcanic islands on moving lithospheric plate. All components are set in motion by a handle controlled by a human operator, and the scene is illuminated with colored lights controlled automatically by an electric device embedded in the box. Operation of the model may be seen on www

  18. Miocene uplift of the NE Greenland margin linked to plate tectonics: Seismic evidence from the Greenland Fracture Zone, NE Atlantic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Døssing, Arne; Japsen, Peter; Watts, Anthony B.; Nielsen, Tove; Jokat, Wilfried; Thybo, Hans; Dahl-Jensen, Trine

    2016-02-01

    Tectonic models predict that following breakup, rift margins undergo only decaying thermal subsidence during their postrift evolution. However, postbreakup stratigraphy beneath the NE Atlantic shelves shows evidence of regional-scale unconformities, commonly cited as outer margin responses to inner margin episodic uplift, including the formation of coastal mountains. The origin of these events remains enigmatic. We present a seismic reflection study from the Greenland Fracture Zone-East Greenland Ridge (GFZ-EGR) and the NE Greenland shelf. We document a regional intra-Miocene seismic unconformity (IMU), which marks the termination of synrift deposition in the deep-sea basins and onset of (i) thermomechanical coupling across the GFZ, (ii) basin compression, and (iii) contourite deposition, north of the EGR. The onset of coupling across the GFZ is constrained by results of 2-D flexural backstripping. We explain the thermomechanical coupling and the deposition of contourites by the formation of a continuous plate boundary along the Mohns and Knipovich ridges, leading to an accelerated widening of the Fram Strait. We demonstrate that the IMU event is linked to onset of uplift and massive shelf progradation on the NE Greenland margin. Given an estimated middle to late Miocene (~15-10 Ma) age of the IMU, we speculate that the event is synchronous with uplift of the east and west Greenland margins. The correlation between margin uplift and plate motion changes further indicates that the uplift was triggered by plate tectonic forces, induced perhaps by a change in the Iceland plume (a hot pulse) and/or by changes in intraplate stresses related to global tectonics.

  19. Tectonics of the Nazca-Antarctic plate boundary

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Anderson-Fontana, Sandra; Larson, Roger L.; Engeln, Joseph F.; Lundgren, Paul; Stein, Seth

    1987-01-01

    A new bathymetric chart of part of the Chile transform system is constructed, based mainly on an R/V Endeavor survey from 100 deg W to its intersection with the East Ridge of the Juan Fernandez microplate. A generally continuous lineated trend can be followed through the entire region, with the transform valley being relatively narrow and well-defined from 109 deg W to approximately 104 deg 30 min W. The fracture zone then widens to the east, with at least two probable en echelon offsets to the south at 104 deg and 102 deg W. Six new strike-slip mechanisms along the Chile Transform and one normal fault mechanism near the northern end of the Chile Rise, inverted together with other plate-motion data from the eastern portion of the boundary, produce a new best-fit Euler pole for the Nazca-Antarctic plate pair, providing tighter constraints on the relative plate motions.

  20. Role of structural heritage and global tectonics events in evolution of Algerian Triassic basin: Tectonic inversion and reservoir distribution

    SciTech Connect

    Boudjema, A.; Tremolieres, P.

    1988-01-01

    Fieldwork and subsurface studies (350 bore holes and more than 100 seismic profiles) show the structural evolution of the Triassic Saharian basin. This evolution is controlled by the successive motions of ancient faults of the Paleozoic basement during the different compressional and distensional tectonic phases. These movements led to some tectonic inversions. Depending on the strike of the faults, the present results correspond to normal throw or reverse throw at the level of hydrocarbon reservoirs. These tectonic phases clearly result from relative motions between African, American, and European lithospheric plates. The Triassic basin, a mobile zone between two rigid shields, constitutes a very good indication of the successive motions. The distribution and the nature of hydrocarbon fields are clearly related to the proximity of the faults, the post-tectonic erosion of a part of the source rocks, the burial and maturation of the organic matter, and the age of structural traps.

  1. A diffuse plate boundary model for Indian Ocean tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wiens, D. A.; Demets, C.; Gordon, R. G.; Stein, S.; Argus, D.

    1985-01-01

    It is suggested that motion along the virtually aseismic Owen fracture zone is negligible, so that Arabia and India are contained within a single Indo-Arabian plate divided from the Australian plate by a diffuse boundary. The boundary is a zone of concentrated seismicity and deformation commonly characterized as 'intraplate'. The rotation vector of Australia relative to Indo-Arabia is consistent with the seismologically observed 2 cm/yr of left-lateral strike-slip along the Ninetyeast Ridge, north-south compression in the Central Indian Ocean, and the north-south extension near Chagos.

  2. Plate tectonics of the Red Sea and East Africa.

    PubMed

    McKenzie, D P; Davies, D; Molnar, P

    1970-04-18

    The relative motion between the plates on each side of the East African Rift Valley can be obtained from the opening of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The calculated direction of relative motion agrees well with fault plane solutions for earthquakes north of the equator. PMID:16057189

  3. Seismicity and plate tectonics in south central Alaska

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Van Wormer, J. D.; Davies, J.; Gedney, L.

    1974-01-01

    Hypocenter distribution shows that the Benioff zone associated with the Aleutian arc terminates in interior Alaska some 75 km north of the Denali fault. There appears to be a break in the subducting Pacific plate in the Yentna River-Prince William Sound area which separates two seismically independent blocks, similar to the segmented structure reported for the central Aleutian arc.

  4. Early impact basins and the onset of plate tectonics. Ph.D. Thesis - Maryland Univ.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Frey, H.

    1977-01-01

    The fundamental crustal dichotomy of the Earth (high and low density crust) was established nearly 4 billion years ago. Therefore, subductable crust was concentrated at the surface of the Earth very early in its history, making possible an early onset for plate tectonics. Simple thermal history calculations spanning 1 billion years show that the basin forming impact thins the lithosphere by at least 25%, and increases the sublithosphere thermal gradients by roughly 20%. The corresponding increase in convective heat transport, combined with the highly fractured nature of the thinned basin lithosphere, suggest that lithospheric breakup or rifting occurred shortly after the formation of the basins. Conditions appropriate for early rifting persisted from some 100,000,000 years following impact. We suggest a very early stage of high temperature, fast spreading "microplate" tectonics, originating before 3.5 billion years ago, and gradually stabilizing over the Archaean into more modern large plate or Wilson Cycle tectonics.

  5. Plate Tectonics: The Way the Earth Works. Teacher's Guide. LHS GEMS.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Cuff, Kevin

    This teacher guide presents a unit on plate tectonics and introduces hands-on activities for students in grades 6-8. In each unit, students act as real scientists and gather evidence by using science process skills such as observing, graphing, analyzing data, designing and making models, visualizing, communicating, theorizing, and drawing…

  6. Introduction of the Concepts of Plate Tectonics into Secondary-School Earth Science Textbooks.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Glenn, William Harold

    1992-01-01

    Secondary school earth-science textbooks in print from 1960 through 1979 were examined to determine how rapidly concepts of plate tectonics were incorporated into those texts during the period when scientists' views about these concepts were evolving most rapidly. Suggests that delays were probably due to an unwillingness to engage in speculation…

  7. The dynamics of plate tectonics and mantle flow: from local to global scales.

    PubMed

    Stadler, Georg; Gurnis, Michael; Burstedde, Carsten; Wilcox, Lucas C; Alisic, Laura; Ghattas, Omar

    2010-08-27

    Plate tectonics is regulated by driving and resisting forces concentrated at plate boundaries, but observationally constrained high-resolution models of global mantle flow remain a computational challenge. We capitalized on advances in adaptive mesh refinement algorithms on parallel computers to simulate global mantle flow by incorporating plate motions, with individual plate margins resolved down to a scale of 1 kilometer. Back-arc extension and slab rollback are emergent consequences of slab descent in the upper mantle. Cold thermal anomalies within the lower mantle couple into oceanic plates through narrow high-viscosity slabs, altering the velocity of oceanic plates. Viscous dissipation within the bending lithosphere at trenches amounts to approximately 5 to 20% of the total dissipation through the entire lithosphere and mantle. PMID:20798311

  8. A model of convergent plate margins based on the recent tectonics of Shikoku, Japan

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bischke, R. E.

    1974-01-01

    A viscoelastic finite element plate tectonic model is applied to displacement data for the island of Shikoku, Japan. The flow properties and geometry of the upper portions of the earth are assumed known from geophysical evidence, and the loading characteristics are determined from the model. The nature of the forces acting on the Philippine Sea plate, particularly in the vicinity of the Nankai trough, is determined. Seismic displacement data related to the 1946 Nankaido earthquake are modeled in terms of a thick elastic plate overlying a fluidlike substratum. The sequence of preseismic and seismic displacements can be explained in terms of two independent processes operating on elastic lithospheric plates: a strain accumulation process caused by vertical downward forces acting on or within the lithosphere in the vicinity of the trench, and a strain release process caused by plate failure along a preexisting zone on weakness. This is a restatement of Reid's elastic rebound theory in terms of elastic lithospheric plates.

  9. The rapid drift of the Indian tectonic plate.

    PubMed

    Kumar, Prakash; Yuan, Xiaohui; Kumar, M Ravi; Kind, Rainer; Li, Xueqing; Chadha, R K

    2007-10-18

    The breakup of the supercontinent Gondwanaland into Africa, Antarctica, Australia and India about 140 million years ago, and consequently the opening of the Indian Ocean, is thought to have been caused by heating of the lithosphere from below by a large plume whose relicts are now the Marion, Kerguelen and Réunion plumes. Plate reconstructions based on palaeomagnetic data suggest that the Indian plate attained a very high speed (18-20 cm yr(-1) during the late Cretaceous period) subsequent to its breakup from Gondwanaland, and then slowed to approximately 5 cm yr(-1) after the continental collision with Asia approximately 50 Myr ago. The Australian and African plates moved comparatively less distance and at much lower speeds of 2-4 cm yr(-1) (refs 3-5). Antarctica remained almost stationary. This mobility makes India unique among the fragments of Gondwanaland. Here we propose that when the fragments of Gondwanaland were separated by the plume, the penetration of their lithospheric roots into the asthenosphere were important in determining their speed. We estimated the thickness of the lithospheric plates of the different fragments of Gondwanaland around the Indian Ocean by using the shear-wave receiver function technique. We found that the fragment of Gondwanaland with clearly the thinnest lithosphere is India. The lithospheric roots in South Africa, Australia and Antarctica are between 180 and 300 km deep, whereas the Indian lithosphere extends only about 100 km deep. We infer that the plume that partitioned Gondwanaland may have also melted the lower half of the Indian lithosphere, thus permitting faster motion due to ridge push or slab pull. PMID:17943128

  10. Paleozoic plate-tectonic evolution of the Tarim and western Tianshan regions, western China

    SciTech Connect

    Yangshen, S.; Huafu, L.; Dong, J.

    1994-11-01

    The plate-tectonic evolution of the Tarim basin and nearby western Tianshan region during Paleozoic time is reconstructed in an effort to further constrain the tectonic evolution of Central Asia, providing insights into the formation and distribution of oil and gas resources. The Tarim plate developed from continental rifting that progressed during early Paleozoic time into a passive continental margin. The Yili terrane (central Tianshan) broke away from the present eastern part of Tarim and became a microcontinent located somewhere between the Junggar ocean and the southern Tianshan ocean. The southern Tianshan ocean, between the Tarim craton and the Yili terrane, was subducting beneath the Yili terrane from Silurian to Devonian time. During the Late Devonian-Early Carboniferous, the Tarim plate collided with the Yili terrane by sinistral accretional docking that resulted in a late Paleozoic deformational episode. Intracontinental shortening (A-type subduction) continued through the Permian with the creation of a magmatic belt. 21 refs., 7 figs., 1 tab.

  11. Discussions on the sedimentary-tectonic event and tectonic setting of the North Tarim Basin in Cryogenian-Cambrian

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhou, X. B.; Li, J. H.; Li, W. S.

    2012-04-01

    Across the Tarim Basin, limited surface outcrops of Cryogenian to Cambrian sedimentary succession are completely exposed in the vicinity of Aksu area(Northwest Tarim), Kuruktag(Northeast Tarim)and Southwest Tarim, thus provides a unique, well preserved and accessible means by which to study the early development of the north Tarim Basin. Based on the field geological investigation in the northwestern and northeastern of Tarim Basin, with the referencing of paleomagnetism mapping and previous research, basin evolution process in Cryogenian-Cambrian is discussed according to sedimentary-tectonic event and other evidences. The major lithological types of Cryogenian-Cambrian system in Northeast Tarim are: tillite, clastic rocks(rich in organic matter) and carbonate ,with interbeds of volcanic rocks while in Northwest Tarim, the calstic rocks and carbonate are the common rock type, with tillite and volcanic interbeds in a small amount. The north margin of Tarim Block, which was a part of Rodinia supercontinent, neighboring the northwestern margin of Australia, was deeply rifted in Cryogenian-Ediacaran and developed into two rifts in the northwestern and northeastern margin, while formed a thick layer of the rift-passive margin deposits and the layer in the northwestern rift was not completely developed as the northeastern. The deepest rift-passive magin sediment which can be observed is Cryogenian-Middle Ordovician strata, and the period can be divided into Cryogenian faulted period (supercontinent rifting stage) and Ediacaran-Middle Ordovician subsidence period (plate drifting stage).

  12. Correlation between plate motions and tectonic subsidence of sedimentary basins in Africa

    SciTech Connect

    Janssen, M.E. )

    1993-09-01

    From the early Mesozoic until the Holocene, the African continent was generally in a state of extension, based on plate tectonic reconstructions and sedimentary basin subsidence studies. Beginning with the breakup of Gondwana in the Permian-Triassic, this resulted in the formation of the present-day African continental margins and a series of intracontinental rift basins, located mainly on older (late Proterozoic) shear zones. Numerous wells from marginal, as well as intracontinental rift basins, have been backstripped to elucidate their Mesozoic and Tertiary tectonic histories. They show a generally consistent patterns of subsidence and uplift phases in all basins. During the evolution of these basins, the direction of African plate motion changed several times. This was related to the differential opening of the central and south Atlantic oceans, changes in spreading rates in both the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and the collision between Africa and Europe. Episodes of compressional deformation related to these plate tectonic changes are revealed in backstripped tectonic subsidence curves.

  13. A new plate tectonic concept for the eastern-most Mediterranean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huebscher, C.; McGrandle, A.; Scaife, G.; Spoors, R.; Stieglitz, T.

    2012-04-01

    Owing to the seismogenic faults bordering the Levant-Sinai realm and the discovery of giant gas reservoirs in the marine Levant Basin the scientific interest in this tectonically complex setting increased in recent years. Here we provide a new model for the Levant Basin architecture and adjacent plate boundaries emphasizing the importance of industrial seismic data for frontier research in earth science. PSDM seismics, residual gravity and depth to basement maps give a clear line of evidence that the Levant Basin, formerly considered as a single tectonic entity, is divided into two different domains. Highly stretched continental crust in the southern domain is separated from deeper and presumably Tethyan oceanic crust in the north. A transform continuing from southwest Cyprus to the Carmel Fault in northern Israel is considered as the boundary. If this interpretation holds, the Carmel-Cyprus Transform represents a yet unknown continent-ocean boundary in the eastern Mediterranean, thus adding new constrains for the Mediterranean plate tectonic puzzle. The Eratosthenes Seamount, considered as the spearhead of incipient continental collision in the eastern Mediterranean, is interpreted as a carbonate platform that developed above a volcanic basement. NW-SE trending strike-slip faults are abundant in the entire Levant region. Since this trend also shapes the topography of the Levant hinterland including Quaternary deposits their recent tectonic activity is quite likely. Thus, our study supports previous studies which attributed the evolution of submarine canyons and Holocene triggering of mass failures not only to salt tectonics or depositional processes, but also to active plate-tectonics.

  14. This dynamic planet: A world map of volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics

    SciTech Connect

    Simkin, T.; Tilling, R.I.; Taggart, J.N.; Jones, W.J.; Spall, H.

    1989-01-01

    The Earth's physiographic features overlain by its volcanoes, earthquake epicenters, and the movement of its major tectonic plates are shown in this map. This computer-generated map of the world provides a base that shows the topography of the land surface and the sea floor; the additions of color and shaded relief help to distinguish significant features. From the Volcano Reference file of the Smithsonian Institution, nearly 1,450 volcanoes active during the past 10,000 yr are plotted on the map in four categories. From the files of the National Earthquake Information Center (US Geological Survey), epicenters selected from 1,300 large events (magnitude {>=} 7.0) from 1987 onward and from 140,000 instrumentally recorded earthquakes (magnitude {>=} 4.0) from 1960 to the present are plotted on this map according to two magnitude categories and two depth categories. This special map is intended as a teaching aid for classroom use and as a general reference for research. It is designed to show prominent global features when viewed from a distance; more detailed features are visible on closer inspection.

  15. Integrating seismological and tectonic studies to constrain lithospheric evolution at complex plate boundaries

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hayes, Gavin Peter

    The relative motion of tectonic plates across their boundaries generates deformation in the surrounding lithosphere. How this deformation is expressed reflects both present-day plate configurations and how plate boundaries evolve. To understand the behavior of plate boundaries, we must study how they have developed. The advances made in seismology over the past fifty years---both in observation and application---provide tools ideal for such analysis. Here, I use these tools to investigate the tectonic evolution of complex plate boundaries. I focus on two areas that have experienced geologically recent plate tectonic variations---the Mendocino triple junction in northern California, and the Australia:Pacific plate boundary south of New Zealand. In northern California, the northward migration of the Mendocino triple junction over the past ˜10Ma has driven a synchronous pattern of thickening and thinning of North American crust. In studying this deformation I find major thinning is localized to a narrow region of crust in the Redwood Valley area. This thinning is accompanied by a steeply dipping Moho (>15°), and by high Poisson's Ratio's in the lower crust, characteristic of layers of melt. These melts may link to shallow (˜10km) dike injections that drive a migrating sequence of seismicity in the shallow crust near Lake Pillsbury. The limited data sets available led me to develop new tools in receiver function and crustal velocity ratio analyses that significantly improve our ability to resolve spatial changes in crustal properties. The application of these techniques forms a second major aspect of this thesis. Finally, I analyze the deformation of Australian lithosphere adjacent to the plate boundary south of New Zealand. I perform earthquake relocations on the distribution of intra- and inter-plate seismicity, and combined with plate reconstructions since the late Oligocene show that deformation occurs over a ˜150km wide area west of the current plate boundary

  16. Gravity anomalies, plate tectonics and the lateral growth of Precambrian North America

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Thomas, M. D.; Grieve, R. A. F.; Sharpton, V. L.

    1988-01-01

    The widespread gravity coverage of North America provides a picture of the gross structural fabric of the continent via the trends of gravity anomalies. The structural picture so obtained reveals a mosaic of gravity trend domains, many of which correlate closely with structural provinces and orogenic terranes. The gravity trend map, interpreted in the light of plate-tectonic theory, thus provides a new perspective for examining the mode of assembly and growth of North America. Suture zones, palaeosubduction directions, and perhaps, contrasting tectonic histories may be identified using gravity patterns.

  17. New Internet software aids paleomagnetic analysis and plate tectonic reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schettino, Antonio; Scotese, Christopher R.

    Internet server-side applications are becoming an invaluable source of information for many scientists. This is particularly evident in the case of molecular biology, where raw information and computation tools related to various genome projects are easily and quickly accessible through several Web servers. As illustrated by the pioneering efforts of the Ocean Drilling Stratigraphic Network (ODSN) service for making online plate reconstructions, the Cornell Interactive Mapping System, the Harvard Centroid-Moment Tensor Project, and the DRAGON project, geophysics has just begun to systematically use comparable network programming technology Within the next few years, many local resources that are currently accessible only at the scale of university departments will be rendered available to a wide public of researchers and students.

  18. Global plate tectonics and the secular motion of the pole

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Soler, T.

    1977-01-01

    Astronomical data compiled during the last 70 years by the international organizations providing the coordinates of the instantaneous pole clearly shows a persistent drift of the mean pole. The differential contributions to the earth's second-order tensor of inertia were obtained and applied, resulting in no significant displacement of the earth's principal axis. In view of the above, the effect that theoretical geophysical models for absolute plate velocities may have on an apparent displacement of the mean pole as a consequence of station drifting was analyzed. The investigation also reports new values for the crustal tensor of inertia (assuming an ellipsoidal earth) and the orientation of its axis of figure, reopening the old speculation of a possible sliding of the whole crustover the upper mantle, including the supporting geophysical and astronomic evidence.

  19. Towards an Integrated Model of Earth's Thermo-Chemical Evolution and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tackley, P. J.; Xie, S.

    2001-05-01

    It has long been a challenge for geodynamicists, who have typically modeled homogeneous mantles, to explain the geochemical evidence for the existence of several distinct chemical reservoirs, in terms of a dynamically and chemically self-consistent model. While the mixing behavior of generalized tracers has received much attention in the modeling community, a recent trend has been towards mantle convection models that track the evolution of specific chemical species, both major and minor, and can thus be related to geochemical observations. However, obtaining realistic chemical evolution in such models is dependent on their having a reasonable representation of plate tectonic behavior since the recycling of oceanic crust and complementary depleted residuum is a key process in Earth that other terrestrial planets may lack. In general, this has required inserting plate motions by hand in models. In recent years, however, we have learned how to perform numerical simulations of mantle convection in which plate tectonic behavior is introduced self-consistently through plastic yielding of the lithosphere. In this presentation, models of mantle convection that combine a treatment of geochemical evolution with self-consistently generated plate tectonics, will be presented. Preliminary results indicate that the system can self-consistently evolve regions which have a HIMU-like signature as well as regions with a high He3/He4 ratio.

  20. Shells on a Sphere: Tectonic Plate Motion and Plate Boundary Deformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Apel, Edwin Victor, III

    Plate motion models have matured from being based only on geology and seismicity to incorporating space-based geodetic methods like GPS. I use a block modeling approach to incorporate both rigid block rotation and near-boundary elastic strain accumulation effects in a formal inversion of GPS velocities. Independent Okhotsk and Amurian microplate motions are tested using GPS velocities that constrain the plate kinematics of northeast Asia. Modeling favors scenarios with independent OKH and AMU motion, based on the application of F-test statistics. The plate-motion parameters of the independent plates are consistent with the kinematics inferred from earthquake focal mechanism solutions along their boundaries. GPS-measured velocities (15 from continuously recording stations within the stable India plate interior) geodetically constrain India plate motion, intraplate strain, and plate boundary deformation around the India plate. Dense station coverage from previously published studies allows rigorous testing of boundary parameterizations. I develop robust India plate motion parameters and see good agreement between predicted plate directions from the preferred model and the seismological data. Available GPS data in and around the Aegean region is combined and used to evaluate plate motion models, elastic plate boundary deformation and its relationship to seismogenic coupling along the Hellenic subduction zone. The A.D. 365 M ˜8.4, the A.D. 1303 M˜8 Crete suggest that portions of the plate interface must be locked. The primary focus of this study is to examine potential upper plate deformation resulting from a locked subduction interface, active hanging-wall extension, or both. I consider multiple model scenarios in an attempt to interpret the both the horizontal and vertical geodetic signals in the region and its implications for earthquake hazard assessment.

  1. Earthquake stress drops, ambient tectonic stresses and stresses that drive plate motions

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hanks, T.C.

    1977-01-01

    A variety of geophysical observations suggests that the upper portion of the lithosphere, herein referred to as the elastic plate, has long-term material properties and frictional strength significantly greater than the lower lithosphere. If the average frictional stress along the non-ridge margin of the elastic plate is of the order of a kilobar, as suggested by the many observations of the frictional strength of rocks at mid-crustal conditions of pressure and temperature, the only viable mechanism for driving the motion of the elastic plate is a basal shear stress of several tens of bars. Kilobars of tectonic stress are then an ambient, steady condition of the earth's crust and uppermost mantle. The approximate equality of the basal shear stress and the average crustal earthquake stress drop, the localization of strain release for major plate margin earthquakes, and the rough equivalence of plate margin slip rates and gross plate motion rates suggest that the stress drops of major plate margin earthquakes are controlled by the elastic release of the basal shear stress in the vicinity of the plate margin, despite the existence of kilobars of tectonic stress existing across vertical planes parallel to the plate margin. If the stress differences available to be released at the time of faulting are distributed in a random, white fasbion with a mean-square value determined by the average earthquake stress drop, the frequency of occurrence of constant stress drop earthquakes will be proportional to reciprocal faulting area, in accordance with empirically known frequency of occurrence statistics. ?? 1977 Birkha??user Verlag.

  2. Topography of Venus and earth - A test for the presence of plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Head, J. W.; Yuter, S. E.; Solomon, S. C.

    1981-01-01

    Comparisons of earth and Venus topography by use of Pioneer/Venus radar altimetry are examined. Approximately 93% of the Venus surface has been mapped with a horizontal resolution of 200 km and a vertical resolution of 200 m. Tectonic troughs have been indicated in plains regions which cover 65% of Venus, and hypsometric comparisons between the two planets' elevation distributions revealed that while the earth has a bimodal height distribution, Venus displays a unimodal configuration, with 60% of the planet surface within 500 m of the modal planet radius. The effects of mapping the earth at the same resolution as the Venus observations were explored. Continents and oceans were apparent, and although folded mountains appeared as high spots, no indications of tectonic activity were discernible. A NASA Venus Orbiting Imaging radar is outlined, which is designed to detect volcanoes, folded mountain ranges, craters, and faults, and thereby allow definition of possible plate-tectonic activity on Venus.

  3. The effect of plate stresses and shallow mantle temperatures on tectonics of northwestern Europe

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goes, S.; Loohuis, J. J. P.; Wortel, M. J. R.; Govers, R.

    2000-12-01

    Northwestern Europe is tectonically more active, in terms of seismicity, vertical motions and volcanism, than would be expected from its location far from any plate boundaries. In the context of the Netherlands Earth System Dynamics Initiative, we investigated the implications of two recent modeling efforts, of Eurasian plate forces and European mantle structure, for our understanding of the dynamics of these intraplate tectonics. We find that: (1) a simple balance between ridge push and collision forces along the southern European boundary does not seem sufficient to explain the observed direction of maximum horizontal compression in northwestern Europe. Our stress model, which imposes dynamical equilibrium on the full Eurasian plate, predicts that collision forces along the African-European boundary are relatively weak and have only a minor effect on the stress field in northwestern Europe; (2) seismic velocity anomalies in the shallow mantle imply 100-300°C variations in temperature under northwestern Europe. This regional mantle structure probably plays a significant role in the high level of intraplate tectonic activity and the regional variations in stress and tectonic style. For most tectonically active areas in Europe, observed surface heat flow anomalies coincide with anomalies in mantle velocity. Low velocity anomalies under northwestern Europe coincide with areas of recent volcanism and uplift, but are offset from the regions of maximum surface heat flow. This suggests that the thermal regime of the central European lithosphere is not in a steady state, probably due to changing mantle conditions. The effect of strong variations in lithospheric strength, predicted from the modeled thermal gradients in the shallow mantle, and of dynamic stresses induced by proposed active mantle upwellings may account for (some of) the differences between the observed and modeled stress field and will be investigated in future stress models.

  4. Evidence for long-lived subduction of an ancient tectonic plate beneath the southern Indian Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Simmons, N. A.; Myers, S. C.; Johannesson, G.; Matzel, E.; Grand, S. P.

    2015-11-01

    Ancient subducted tectonic plates have been observed in past seismic images of the mantle beneath North America and Eurasia, and it is likely that other ancient slab structures have remained largely hidden, particularly in the seismic-data-limited regions beneath the vast oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Here we present a new global tomographic image, which shows a slab-like structure beneath the southern Indian Ocean with coherency from the upper mantle to the core-mantle boundary region—a feature that has never been identified. We postulate that the structure is an ancient tectonic plate that sank into the mantle along an extensive intraoceanic subduction zone that migrated southwestward across the ancient Tethys Ocean in the Mesozoic Era. Slab material still trapped in the transition zone is positioned near the edge of East Gondwana at 140 Ma suggesting that subduction terminated near the margin of the ancient continent prior to breakup and subsequent dispersal of its subcontinents.

  5. Melting-induced crustal production helps plate tectonics on Earth-like planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lourenço, Diogo L.; Rozel, Antoine; Tackley, Paul J.

    2016-04-01

    Within our Solar System, Earth is the only planet to be in a mobile-lid regime. It is generally accepted that the other terrestrial planets are currently in a stagnant-lid regime, with the possible exception of Venus that may be in an episodic-lid regime. In this study, we use numerical simulations to address the question of whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour (plate tectonics). Our results show that melting-induced crustal production strongly influences plate tectonics on Earth-like planets by strongly enhancing the mobility of the lid, replacing a stagnant lid with an episodic lid, or greatly extending the time in which a smoothly evolving mobile lid is present in a planet. Finally, we show that our results are consistent with analytically predicted critical yield stress obtained with boundary layer theory, whether melting-induced crustal production is considered or not.

  6. JaMBES: A "New" Way of Calculating Plate Tectonic Reconstruction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chambord, A. I.; Smith, E. G. C.; Sutherland, R.

    2014-12-01

    Calculating the paleoposition of tectonic plates using marine geophysical data has been usually done by using the Hellinger criterion [Hellinger, 1981]. However, for the Hellinger software [Kirkwood et al., 1999] to produce stable results, we find that the input data must be abundant and spatially well distributed. Although magnetic anomalies and fracture zone data have been increasingly abundant since the 1960s, some parts of the globe remain too sparsely explored to provide enough data for the Hellinger code to provide satisfactory rotations. In this poster, we present new software to calculate the paleopositions of tectonic plates using magnetic anomalies and fracture zone data. Our method is based on the theory of plate tectonics as introduced by [Bullard et al., 1965] and [Morgan, 1968], which states that ridge segments (ie. magnetic lineations) and fracture zones are at right angles to each other. In order to test our software, we apply it to a region of the world where climatic conditions hinder the acquisition of magnetic data: the Southwest Pacific, between New Zealand and Antarctica from breakup time to chron 20 (c43Ma). Bullard, E., J. E. Everett, and A. G. Smith (1965), The fit of continents around the atlantic, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 258(1088), 41-51. Hellinger, S. J. (1981), The uncertainties of finite rotations in plate tectonics, Journal of Geophysical Research, 86(B10), 9312-9318. Kirkwood, B. H., J. Y. Royer, T. C. Chang, and R. G. Gordon (1999), Statistical tools for estimating and combining finite rotations and their uncertainties, Geophysical Journal International, 137(2), 408-428. Morgan, W. J. (1968), Rises, trenches, great faults, and crustal blocks, Journal of Geophysical Research, 73(6), 1959-1982.

  7. Structures in the Deep Mantle: Implications for the Onset of Plate Tectonics and the Viscosity Structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stein, Claudia; Hansen, Ulrich

    2016-04-01

    Recently deep structures have been studied intensively. The observed large anomalies with reduced seismic velocities (LLSVPs) beneath Africa and the Pacific are obtained in numerical models as an initial dense layer at the core-mantle boundary (CMB) is pushed up to piles by the convective flow (e.g., McNamara et al., EPSL 229, 1-9, 2010). Adding a dense CMB layer to a model featuring active plate tectonics, Trim et al. (EPSL 405, 1-14, 2014) find that surface mobility is strongly hindered by the dense material and can even vanish completely for a CMB layer that has a too high density or too large a volume. In a further study we employed a fully rheological model in which oceanic plates form self-consistently. We observe that an initial dense CMB layer strongly affects the formation of plates and therefore the onset time of plate tectonics. In a systematic 2D parameter study of thermochemical convection we discuss the resulting viscosity structure and time of plate initiation.

  8. Stability of active mantle upwelling revealed by net characteristics of plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Conrad, Clinton P; Steinberger, Bernhard; Torsvik, Trond H

    2013-06-27

    Viscous convection within the mantle is linked to tectonic plate motions and deforms Earth's surface across wide areas. Such close links between surface geology and deep mantle dynamics presumably operated throughout Earth's history, but are difficult to investigate for past times because the history of mantle flow is poorly known. Here we show that the time dependence of global-scale mantle flow can be deduced from the net behaviour of surface plate motions. In particular, we tracked the geographic locations of net convergence and divergence for harmonic degrees 1 and 2 by computing the dipole and quadrupole moments of plate motions from tectonic reconstructions extended back to the early Mesozoic era. For present-day plate motions, we find dipole convergence in eastern Asia and quadrupole divergence in both central Africa and the central Pacific. These orientations are nearly identical to the dipole and quadrupole orientations of underlying mantle flow, which indicates that these 'net characteristics' of plate motions reveal deeper flow patterns. The positions of quadrupole divergence have not moved significantly during the past 250 million years, which suggests long-term stability of mantle upwelling beneath Africa and the Pacific Ocean. These upwelling locations are positioned above two compositionally and seismologically distinct regions of the lowermost mantle, which may organize global mantle flow as they remain stationary over geologic time. PMID:23803848

  9. Study provides data on active plate tectonics in southeast Asia region

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wilson, P.; Rais, J.; Reigber, Ch.; Reinhart, E.; Ambrosius, B. A. C.; Le Pichon, X.; Kasser, M.; Suharto, P.; Majid, Dato'Abdul; Yaakub, Dato'Paduka Awang Haji Othman Bin Haji; Almeda, R.; Boonphakdee, C.

    A major geodynamic study has provided significant new information about the location of active plate boundaries in and around Southeast Asia, as well as deformation processes in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia and tectonic activity in the Philippine archipelago. Results also have confirmed the existence of the so-called Sunda Block, which appears to be rotating with respect to adjacent plates.The study, known as the Geodynamics of South and South-East Asia (GEODYSSEA) project, has been a joint venture of the European Commission and the Association of South- East Asian Nations. It began in 1991 and involved a large team of European and Asian scientists and technicians studying the complex geodynamic processes and natural hazards of the region from the Southeast Asia mainland to the Philippines to northern Australia. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and tectonically induced landslides endanger the lives of millions of people in the region, and the tectonic activity behind these natural hazards results from the convergence and collision of the Eurasian, Philippine, and Indo-Australian Plates at relative velocities of up to 10 cm per year.

  10. On the importance of plumes to initiate subduction and plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Davaille, Anne

    2015-04-01

    Understanding the details of plate failure and the initiation of subduction remains a challenge due to the complexity of mantle rocks. We carried out experiments on convection in aqueous colloidal dispersions heated from below, and dried and cooled from above. The rheology of these fluids depends strongly on solid particle fraction fp, being Newtonian at low fp, and presenting memory, yield stress, elasticity, and brittle properties as fp increases. Such a behaviour is analogue to the rheology of mantle rocks as temperature decreases. When drying is sufficiently rapid in the laboratory, a visco-elasto-plastic skin ("lithosphere") forms on the fluid surface. Depending on its rheology, and on the different scales of convection existing in our laboratory mantle, we observed different modes of one-sided subduction initiation. However, not all of them lead to continuous plate tectonics. If subduction is definitely a necessary condition for plate tectonics, it is not sufficient. Amongst the different modes of subduction initiation, we observed two of them where one-sided subduction was induced by the impingement of a hot plume under the skin, the trench being localized on the rim of the plume impingement zone under the lithosphere. Then depending on the lithospheric rheology, the nascent subduction can then either stop as the result of subducted plate necking, or continue to sink smoothly. Due to the brittle character of the skin, the subduction trench will never describe a complete circle, but several tears and/or transform faults will develop as subduction and roll back proceed. Inspection of the geological record on Earth suggests that such a strong association between plumes and subduction may have been instrumental in the nucleation and growth of cratons, the onset of continuous plate tectonics, and present-day initiation of subduction around some large oceanic plateaus.

  11. This Dynamic Planet: World map of volcanoes, earthquakes, impact craters and plate tectonics

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Simkin, Tom; Tilling, Robert I.; Vogt, Peter R.; Kirby, Stephen H.; Kimberly, Paul; Stewart, David B.

    2006-01-01

    Our Earth is a dynamic planet, as clearly illustrated on the main map by its topography, over 1500 volcanoes, 44,000 earthquakes, and 170 impact craters. These features largely reflect the movements of Earth's major tectonic plates and many smaller plates or fragments of plates (including microplates). Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are awe-inspiring displays of the powerful forces of nature and can be extraordinarily destructive. On average, about 60 of Earth's 550 historically active volcanoes are in eruption each year. In 2004 alone, over 160 earthquakes were magnitude 6.0 or above, some of which caused casualties and substantial damage. This map shows many of the features that have shaped--and continue to change--our dynamic planet. Most new crust forms at ocean ridge crests, is carried slowly away by plate movement, and is ultimately recycled deep into the earth--causing earthquakes and volcanism along the boundaries between moving tectonic plates. Oceans are continually opening (e.g., Red Sea, Atlantic) or closing (e.g., Mediterranean). Because continental crust is thicker and less dense than thinner, younger oceanic crust, most does not sink deep enough to be recycled, and remains largely preserved on land. Consequently, most continental bedrock is far older than the oldest oceanic bedrock. (see back of map) The earthquakes and volcanoes that mark plate boundaries are clearly shown on this map, as are craters made by impacts of extraterrestrial objects that punctuate Earth's history, some causing catastrophic ecological changes. Over geologic time, continuing plate movements, together with relentless erosion and redeposition of material, mask or obliterate traces of earlier plate-tectonic or impact processes, making the older chapters of Earth's 4,500-million-year history increasingly difficult to read. The recent activity shown on this map provides only a present-day snapshot of Earth's long history, helping to illustrate how its present surface came to

  12. Rubidium-strontium geochronology and plate-tectonic evolution of the southern part of the Arabian Shield

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fleck, Robert J.; Greenwood, W.R.; Hadley, D.G.; Anderson, R.E.; Schmidt, D.L.

    1980-01-01

    Rubidium-strontium studies of Precambrian volcanic and plutonic rocks of the Arabian Shield document an early development of the Arabian craton between 900 and 680 m.y. (million years) ago. Geologic studies indicate an island-arc environment characterized by andesitic (dioritic) magmas, volcaniclastic sedimentation, rapid deposition, and contemporaneous deformation along north or northwest-trending axes. Magmatic trends show consistent variation in both composition and geographic location as a function of age. The oldest units belong to an assemblage of basaltic strata exposed in western Saudi Arabia that yield an age of 1165:!:110 m.y. The oldest andesitic strata studied yield an age of 912:!:76 m.y. The earliest plutonic units are diorite to trondhjemite batholiths that range from 800 to 9,00 m.y. in age and ,occur along the western and southern parts of Saudi Arabia. Younger plutonic units, 680 to 750 m.y. in age, range from quartz diorite to granodiodte and become more abundant in the central and northeastern parts of the Arabian Shield. Initial 'Sr/ 86 Sr ratios for both dioritic groups range from 0.7023 to 0.7030 and average 0.7027. The absence of sialic detritus in sedimentary units and the evidence for an island-arc environment suggest the early development of the Arabian craton at a convergent plate margin between plates of oceanic lithosphere. Active subduction apparently extended from at least 900 m.y. to about 680 m.y. Subsequent to this subduction-related magmatism and tectonism, called the Hijaz tectonic cycle, the Arabian craton was sutured to the late Precambrian African plate in a collisional event. This period of orogeny, represented in Arabia and eastern Africa by the Mozambiquian or Pan-African event, extended from some time before 650 m.y. to at least 540 m.y. and perhaps 520 m.y. B.P. Although the tectonic processes of subduction and continental collision during the 900+ to 500-m.y. period require similar directions of plate convergence, the

  13. The role of image design in communicating the plate tectonic model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Clark, S. K.

    2009-12-01

    As the unifying concept of the geosciences, the plate tectonic model is arguably the most important concept for students to understand about the Earth. The scale of plate tectonic processes is far beyond the everyday scale of human lives. Maps and schematic images within textbooks, on-line, or on television are the only access that most lay people, students, and even geologists will ever have to these inherently intangible processes. This means that images play a critical role in communicating aspects of plate tectonics and in developing conceptual models of these earth-scale processes to both experts and novices. In this study, non-science majors to geoscience faculty answered questions about a simplified version of a well-known schematic cross-section that illustrates various plate tectonic processes. Findings from questionnaires and interviews, including eye-tracking data, reveal the differences in how experts and novices visually inspect and interpret the cross-section. Findings include: Experts will focus on the relevant aspects of the image and may completely filter and dismiss aspects of the image they deem irrelevant. However, those same, irrelevant aspects can pose significant distractions to novices, and may mislead novices either by creating new misconceptions or supporting prior misconceptions. Two examples of commonly seen and possibly distracting aspects in cross sections of the plate tectonic model are a red, orange, or yellow asthenosphere under a gray lithosphere, and subducting slabs that terminate in the asthenosphere. The color scheme supports a misconception held by some of a hot, liquid mantle. Subducting slabs that either terminate abruptly or fade away are frequently interpreted to be melting at the “tip”. These findings support research that has clearly indicated that experts attend to relevant aspects of visual stimuli whereas novices do not. Images designed for experts may simply be too confusing for novices to focus on the salient

  14. Tectonic activity evolution of the Scotia-Antarctic Plate boundary from mass transport deposit analysis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pérez, Lara F.; Bohoyo, Fernando; Hernández-Molina, F. Javier; Casas, David; Galindo-Zaldívar, Jesús; Ruano, Patricia; Maldonado, Andrés.

    2016-04-01

    The spatial distribution and temporal occurrence of mass transport deposits (MTDs) in the sedimentary infill of basins and submerged banks near the Scotia-Antarctic plate boundary allowed us to decode the evolution of the tectonic activity of the relevant structures in the region from the Oligocene to present day. The 1020 MTDs identified in the available data set of multichannel seismic reflection profiles in the region are subdivided according to the geographic and chronological distributions of these features. Their spatial distribution reveals a preferential location along the eastern margins of the eastern basins. This reflects local deformation due to the evolution of the Scotia-Antarctic transcurrent plate boundary and the impact of oceanic spreading along the East Scotia Ridge (ESR). The vertical distribution of the MTDs in the sedimentary record evidences intensified regional tectonic deformation from the middle Miocene to Quaternary. Intensified deformation started at about 15 Ma, when the ESR progressively replaces the West Scotia Ridge (WSR) as the main oceanic spreading center in the Scotia Sea. Coevally with the WSR demise at about 6.5 Ma, increased spreading rates of the ESR and numerous MTDs were formed. The high frequency of MTDs during the Pliocene, mainly along the western basins, is also related to greater tectonic activity due to uplift of the Shackleton Fracture Zone by tectonic inversion and extinction of the Antarctic-Phoenix Ridge and involved changes at late Pliocene. The presence of MTDs in the southern Scotia Sea basins is a relevant indicator of the interplay between sedimentary instability and regional tectonics.

  15. Mantle Convection, Stagnant Lids and Plate Tectonics on Super-Earths

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tackley, P. J.; van Heck, H. J.

    2008-12-01

    The discovery of extra-solar super-Earths has prompted interest in their possible mantle dynamics and evolution, and in whether their lithospheres are most likely to be undergoing plate tectonics like on Earth, or be stagnant lids like on Mars and Venus. The origin of plate tectonics is poorly understood for the Earth, likely involving a complex interplay of rheological, compositional, melting and thermal effects, which makes it impossible to make reliable predictions for other planets. Nevertheless, as a starting point it is common to parameterize the complex processes involved as a simple yield stress that is either constant or has a linear "Byerlee's law" dependence on pressure (e.g., [Tackley, GCubed 2000ab] in 3D cartesian geometry; [van Heck and Tackley, GRL 2008] in 3D spherical geometry). For such a simple description, scaling with planet size is expected to depend on heating mode (internal versus basal) and lithospheric strength profile. Simple "back of the envelope" scaling laws (e.g., following Moresi and Solomatov, GJI 1998) ignoring the pressure- dependence of physical properties such as density and thermal expansivity, suggest that the threshold for plate tectonics (i.e., yield stress or friction coefficient) does not depend strongly on planet size, and plate tectonics is equally likely or more likely for larger planets. Scalings that take into account pressure-related changes in physical properties [Valencia et al., Astrophys. J., 2007] make a similar prediction for predominantly internally-heated convection. Because the simplifying assumptions made in developing analytical scalings may not be valid over all parameter ranges, numerical simulations are needed; the one numerical study on super-Earths to date (O'Neill and Lenardic, GRL 2007) finds that plate tectonics is less likely on a larger planet, in apparent contradiction of analytical results. To try and understand this we here present new calculations of yielding- induced plate tectonics as a

  16. Tectonic plates, D (double prime) thermal structure, and the nature of mantle plumes

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lenardic, A.; Kaula, W. M.

    1994-01-01

    It is proposed that subducting tectonic plates can affect the nature of thermal mantle plumes by determining the temperature drop across a plume source layer. The temperature drop affects source layer stability and the morphology of plumes emitted from it. Numerical models are presented to demonstrate how introduction of platelike behavior in a convecting temperature dependent medium, driven by a combination of internal and basal heating, can increase the temperature drop across the lower boundary layer. The temperature drop increases dramatically following introduction of platelike behavior due to formation of a cold temperature inversion above the lower boundary layer. This thermal inversion, induced by deposition of upper boundary layer material to the system base, decays in time, but the temperature drop across the lower boundary layer always remains considerably higher than in models lacking platelike behavior. On the basis of model-inferred boundary layer temperature drops and previous studies of plume dynamics, we argue that generally accepted notions as to the nature of mantle plumes on Earth may hinge on the presence of plates. The implication for Mars and Venus, planets apparently lacking plate tectonics, is that mantle plumes of these planets may differ morphologically from those of Earth. A corollary model-based argument is that as a result of slab-induced thermal inversions above the core mantle boundary the lower most mantle may be subadiabatic, on average (in space and time), if major plate reorganization timescales are less than those acquired to diffuse newly deposited slab material.

  17. Tectonic implications of post-30 Ma Pacific and North American relative plate motions

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Bohannon, R.G.; Parsons, T.

    1995-01-01

    The Pacific plate moved northwest relative to North America since 42 Ma. The rapid half rate of Pacific-Farallon spreading allowed the ridge to approach the continent at about 29 Ma. Extinct spreading ridges that occur offshore along 65% of the margin document that fragments of the subducted Farallon slab became captured by the Pacific plate and assumed its motion proper to the actual subduction of the spreading ridge. This plate-capture process can be used to explain much of the post-29 Ma Cordilleran North America extension, strike slip, and the inland jump of oceanic spreading in the Gulf of California. Much of the post-29 Ma continental tectonism is the result of the strong traction imposed on the deep part of the continental crust by the gently inclined slab of subducted oceanic lithosphere as it moved to the northwest relative to the overlying continent. -from Authors

  18. The many impacts of building mountain belts on plate tectonics and mantle flow

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yamato, Philippe; Husson, Laurent

    2015-04-01

    During the Cenozoic, the number of orogens on Earth increased. This observation readily indicates that in the same time, compression in the lithosphere became gradually more and more important. Such an increase of stresses in the lithosphere can impact on plate tectonics and mantle dynamics. We show that mountain belts at plate boundaries increasingly obstruct plate tectonics, slowing down and reorienting their motions. In turn, this changes the dynamic and kinematic surface conditions of the underlying flowing mantle. Ultimately, this modifies the pattern of mantle flow. This forcing could explain many first order features of Cenozoic plate tectonics and mantle flow. Among these, one can cite the compression of passive margins, the important variations in the rates of spreading at oceanic ridges, or the initiation of subduction, the onset of obduction, for the lithosphere. In the mantle, such change in boundary condition redesigns the pattern of mantle flow and, consequently, the oceanic lithosphere cooling. In order to test this hypothesis we first present thermo-mechanical numerical models of mantle convection above which a lithosphere rests. Our results show that when collision occurs, the mantle flow is highly modified, which leads to (i) increasing shear stresses below the lithosphere and (ii) to a modification of the convection style. In turn, the transition between a 'free' convection (mobile lid) and an 'upset' convection (stagnant -or sluggish- lid) highly impacts the dynamics of the lithosphere at the surface of the Earth. Thereby, on the basis of these models and a variety of real examples, we show that on the other side of a collision zone, passive margins become squeezed and can undergo compression, which may ultimately evolve into subduction or obduction. We also show that much further, due to the blocking of the lithosphere, spreading rates decrease at the ridge, a fact that may explain a variety of features such as the low magmatism of ultraslow

  19. Integrating Geochemical and Geodynamic Numerical Models of Mantle Evolution and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tackley, P. J.; Xie, S.

    2001-12-01

    The thermal and chemical evolution of Earth's mantle and plates are inextricably coupled by the plate tectonic - mantle convective system. Convection causes chemical differentiation, recycling and mixing, while chemical variations affect the convection through physical properties such as density and viscosity which depend on composition. It is now possible to construct numerical mantle convection models that track the thermo-chemical evolution of major and minor elements, and which can be used to test prospective models and hypotheses regarding Earth's chemical and thermal evolution. Model thermal and chemical structures can be compared to results from seismic tomography, while geochemical signatures (e.g., trace element ratios) can be compared to geochemical observations. The presented, two-dimensional model combines a simplified 2-component major element model with tracking of the most important trace elements, using a tracer method. Melting is self-consistently treated using a solidus, with melt placed on the surface as crust. Partitioning of trace elements occurs between melt and residue. Decaying heat-producing elements and secular cooling of the mantle and core provide the driving heat sources. Pseudo-plastic yielding of the lithosphere gives a first-order approximation of plate tectonics, and also allows planets with a rigid lid or intermittent plate tectonics to be modeled simply by increasing the yield strength. Preliminary models with an initially homogeneous mantle show that regions with a HIMU-like signature can be generated by crustal recycling, and regions with high 3He/4He ratios can be generated by residuum recycling. Outgassing of Argon is within the observed range. Models with initially layered mantles will also be investigated. In future it will be important to include a more realistic bulk compositional model that allows continental crust as well as oceanic crust to form, and to extend the model to three dimensions since toroidal flow may alter

  20. MANTLE CONVECTION, PLATE TECTONICS, AND VOLCANISM ON HOT EXO-EARTHS

    SciTech Connect

    Van Summeren, Joost; Conrad, Clinton P.; Gaidos, Eric

    2011-07-20

    Recently discovered exoplanets on close-in orbits should have surface temperatures of hundreds to thousands of Kelvin. They are likely tidally locked and synchronously rotating around their parent stars and, if an atmosphere is absent, have surface temperature contrasts of many hundreds to thousands of Kelvin between permanent day and night sides. We investigated the effect of elevated surface temperature and strong surface temperature contrasts for Earth-mass planets on the (1) pattern of mantle convection, (2) tectonic regime, and (3) rate and distribution of partial melting, using numerical simulations of mantle convection with a composite viscous/pseudo-plastic rheology. Our simulations indicate that if a close-in rocky exoplanet lacks an atmosphere to redistribute heat, a {approx}>400 K surface temperature contrast can maintain an asymmetric degree 1 pattern of mantle convection in which the surface of the planet moves preferentially toward subduction zones on the cold night side. The planetary surface features a hemispheric dichotomy, with plate-like tectonics on the night side and a continuously evolving mobile lid on the day side with diffuse surface deformation and vigorous volcanism. If volcanic outgassing establishes an atmosphere and redistributes heat, plate tectonics is globally replaced by diffuse surface deformation and volcanism accelerates and becomes distributed more uniformly across the planetary surface.

  1. Ordovician-Silurian tectonism in northern California:The Callahan event

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cotkin, Spencer J.

    1992-09-01

    Middle Ordovician to Early Silurian volcanism, plutonism, metamorphism, deformation, and sedimentation in the Yreka and Trinity terranes, eastern Klamath Mountains, northern California, are considered to be related phenomena that occurred in response to an episode of tectonism known as the Callahan event. A diverse array of evidence is used to construct a tectonic model for the Callahan event that involves a subduction zone, a magmatic arc, and a back-arc spreading center, and to show that tectonism likely occurred within the framework of the North American continental margin. Evidence pertaining to subduction polarity is meager, but is consistent with an eastward dip. The Callahan event represents the earliest Phanerozoic convergent-margin tectonic event recognized within the U.S. Cordillera.

  2. A unit of instruction on the plate tectonic evolution of New England

    SciTech Connect

    Reusch, D. )

    1993-03-01

    A unit of instruction has been developed which enables high school students to decipher the plate tectonic evolution of a typical mountain belt, the New England segment of the Appalachian Orogen. It integrates a wide variety of geological topics including: geological time, the fossil record, global tectonics, geological environments, rocks, minerals, and representative sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic processes. Students are provided with a simplified tectonic map of the New England area and data cards on each of 12 units. They use fossils and radiometric dates to sort the units chronologically and the map to sort them geographically. Next, they compare the fossil and geological data for each unit with modern tectonic settings and interpret each unit as either oceanic crust [+-] mantle, volcanic arc, arc margin, continental crust, passive margin (rift, shelf, or slope), granite system, or collision margin. Finally, they reconstruct the paleogeography for each time period which reveals the cycle of Iapetus Ocean growth and destruction and the initiation of the Atlantic Ocean cycle.

  3. Conception and realisation of educational models for an exhibition explaining the plate tectonics theory

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ouerghi, S.; Harchi, M.; Riadh chebbi, M.

    2012-04-01

    Alfred Wegener suggested in 1915 that the seven continents were once one large land mass that broke apart creating the continents, which then drifted to their current locations. The Atlantic Ocean was created by this process. The mid-Atlantic Ridge is an area where new sea floor is being created. The sea floor continues to spread and the plates get bigger and bigger. Therefore, when plates diverge and form new crust in one area, the plates must converge in another area and be destroyed. When two continental plates meet each other this results in the formation of a mountain. As the subducting oceanic crust melts as it goes deeper into the Earth, the newly-created magma rises to the surface and forms volcanoes. So, the plates move towards each other. The amount of crust on the surface of the earth remains relatively constant. In this context, the aim of this study is to elaborate some educational models to facilitate the comprehension of plate tectonics and there results for pupils and science city visitors.

  4. Development of the Plate Tectonics and Seismology markup languages with XML

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Babaie, H.; Babaei, A.

    2003-04-01

    The Extensible Markup Language (XML) and its specifications such as the XSD Schema, allow geologists to design discipline-specific vocabularies such as Seismology Markup Language (SeismML) or Plate Tectonics Markup Language (TectML). These languages make it possible to store and interchange structured geological information over the Web. Development of a geological markup language requires mapping geological concepts, such as "Earthquake" or "Plate" into a UML object model, applying a modeling and design environment. We have selected four inter-related geological concepts: earthquake, fault, plate, and orogeny, and developed four XML Schema Definitions (XSD), that define the relationships, cardinalities, hierarchies, and semantics of these concepts. In such a geological concept model, the UML object "Earthquake" is related to one or more "Wave" objects, each arriving to a seismic station at a specific "DateTime", and relating to a specific "Epicenter" object that lies at a unique "Location". The "Earthquake" object occurs along a "Segment" of a "Fault" object, which is related to a specific "Plate" object. The "Fault" has its own associations with such things as "Bend", "Step", and "Segment", and could be of any kind (e.g., "Thrust", "Transform'). The "Plate" is related to many other objects such as "MOR", "Subduction", and "Forearc", and is associated with an "Orogeny" object that relates to "Deformation" and "Strain" and several other objects. These UML objects were mapped into XML Metadata Interchange (XMI) formats, which were then converted into four XSD Schemas. The schemas were used to create and validate the XML instance documents, and to create a relational database hosting the plate tectonics and seismological data in the Microsoft Access format. The SeismML and TectML allow seismologists and structural geologists, among others, to submit and retrieve structured geological data on the Internet. A seismologist, for example, can submit peer-reviewed and

  5. Tectonomagmatic evolution of the Earth: from the primordial crust to plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sharkov, E. V.; Bogatikov, O. A.

    2009-12-01

    tomography. We believe that the ascending of the second generation mantle plumes (thermochemical), enriched in Fe, Ti, P, LREE, etc., was responsible for those changes. Those plumes were generated at the core-mantle boundary in D" layer and this process is active so far. The thermochemical plume matter possessed less density and could reach shallower depths; triggering plate tectonics processes. So, previously absent geochemical-enriched material started to involve from ~2.3 Ga in the Earth’s tectonomagmatic processes. Where such material was “conserved” and how it was activated? The established succession of events could be provided by a combination of two independent factors: (1) the Earth originally was heterogeneous, and (2) the downward heating of the Earth (from the surface to the core) was followed by the cooling of its outer shells. The most evidently cause of the centripetal heating of the Earth was a zone/wave of heat-generating deformation, appeared after it’s accretion completion, which moved inside the planet as a result of acceleration of the body’s rotation around axis due to momentum conservation law as a result of material compaction and it’s radius shortening.

  6. Archean upper crust transition from mafic to felsic marks the onset of plate tectonics.

    PubMed

    Tang, Ming; Chen, Kang; Rudnick, Roberta L

    2016-01-22

    The Archean Eon witnessed the production of early continental crust, the emergence of life, and fundamental changes to the atmosphere. The nature of the first continental crust, which was the interface between the surface and deep Earth, has been obscured by the weathering, erosion, and tectonism that followed its formation. We used Ni/Co and Cr/Zn ratios in Archean terrigenous sedimentary rocks and Archean igneous/metaigneous rocks to track the bulk MgO composition of the Archean upper continental crust. This crust evolved from a highly mafic bulk composition before 3.0 billion years ago to a felsic bulk composition by 2.5 billion years ago. This compositional change was attended by a fivefold increase in the mass of the upper continental crust due to addition of granitic rocks, suggesting the onset of global plate tectonics at ~3.0 billion years ago. PMID:26798012

  7. Numerical simulation of tectonic plates motion and seismic process in Central Asia

    SciTech Connect

    Peryshkin, A. Yu.; Makarov, P. V. Eremin, M. O.

    2014-11-14

    An evolutionary approach proposed in [1, 2] combining the achievements of traditional macroscopic theory of solid mechanics and basic ideas of nonlinear dynamics is applied in a numerical simulation of present-day tectonic plates motion and seismic process in Central Asia. Relative values of strength parameters of rigid blocks with respect to the soft zones were characterized by the δ parameter that was varied in the numerical experiments within δ = 1.1–1.8 for different groups of the zonal-block divisibility. In general, the numerical simulations of tectonic block motion and accompanying seismic process in the model geomedium indicate that the numerical solutions of the solid mechanics equations characterize its deformation as a typical behavior of a nonlinear dynamic system under conditions of self-organized criticality.

  8. Archean upper crust transition from mafic to felsic marks the onset of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tang, Ming; Chen, Kang; Rudnick, Roberta L.

    2016-01-01

    The Archean Eon witnessed the production of early continental crust, the emergence of life, and fundamental changes to the atmosphere. The nature of the first continental crust, which was the interface between the surface and deep Earth, has been obscured by the weathering, erosion, and tectonism that followed its formation. We used Ni/Co and Cr/Zn ratios in Archean terrigenous sedimentary rocks and Archean igneous/metaigneous rocks to track the bulk MgO composition of the Archean upper continental crust. This crust evolved from a highly mafic bulk composition before 3.0 billion years ago to a felsic bulk composition by 2.5 billion years ago. This compositional change was attended by a fivefold increase in the mass of the upper continental crust due to addition of granitic rocks, suggesting the onset of global plate tectonics at ~3.0 billion years ago.

  9. EAG Eminent Speaker: Two types of Archean continental crust: plume and plate tectonics on early Earth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Van Kranendonk, M. J.

    2012-04-01

    Over 4.5 billion years, Earth has evolved from a molten ball to a cooler planet with large continental plates, but how and when continents grew and plate tectonics started remain poorly understood. In this paper, I review the evidence that 3.5-3.2 Ga continental nuclei of the Pilbara (Australia) and Kaapvaal (southern Africa) cratons formed as thick volcanic plateaux over hot, upwelling mantle and survived due to contemporaneous development of highly depleted, buoyant, unsubductable mantle roots. This type of crust is distinct from, but complimentary to, high-grade gneiss terranes, as exemplified by the North Atlantic Craton of West Greenland, which formed through subduction-accretion tectonics on what is envisaged as a vigorously convecting early Earth with small plates. Thus, it is proposed that two types of crust formed on early Earth, in much the same way as in modern Earth, but with distinct differences resulting from a hotter Archean mantle. Volcanic plateaux provided a variety of stable habitats for early life, including chemical nutrient rich, shallow-water hydrothermal systems and shallow marine carbonate platforms.

  10. Students' mental model development during historically contextualized inquiry: how the `Tectonic Plate' metaphor impeded the process

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dolphin, Glenn; Benoit, Wendy

    2016-01-01

    At present, quality earth science education in grade school is rare, increasing the importance of post-secondary courses. Observations of post-secondary geoscience indicate students often maintain errant ideas about the earth, even after direct instruction. This qualitative case study documents model-building activities of students as they experienced classroom instruction that braids history, inquiry, and model-based-learning within the context of earth dynamics. Transcripts of students' conversations, and their written work indicate students primarily employed model accretion to enhance their mental models. Instances of accretion were descriptive, pertaining to what their model consisted of, as opposed to how it explained the target phenomenon. Participants also conflated "continent" with "tectonic plate" and had difficulty attributing elastic properties - the mechanism for earthquakes - to rocks or "plates". We assert that the documented learning difficulties resulted from use of the metaphor "tectonic plate", reinforced by other everyday experiences and meanings. We suggest students need time with new models or concepts to develop strong descriptions before developing explanations. They need concrete experiences and explicit discussions concerning mapping those experiences to concepts. Lastly, because students often apply common meanings to scientific terms, we should not ask if they understand, but ask how they understand the concept.

  11. Tertiary plate tectonics and high-pressure metamorphism in New Caledonia

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Brothers, R.N.; Blake, M.C., Jr.

    1973-01-01

    The sialic basement of New Caledonia is a Permian-Jurassic greywacke sequence which was folded and metamorphosed to prehnite-pumpellyite or low-grade greenschist facies by the Late Jurassic. Succeeding Cretaceous-Eocene sediments unconformably overlie this basement and extend outwards onto oceanic crust. Tertiary tectonism occurred in three distinct phases. 1. (1) During the Late Eocene a nappe of peridotite was obducted onto southern New Caledonia from northeast to southwest, but without causing significant metamorphism in the underlying sialic rocks. 2. (2) Oligocene compressive thrust tectonics in the northern part of the island accompanied a major east-west subduction zone, at least 30 km wide, which is identified by an imbricate system of tectonically intruded melanges and by development of lawsonite-bearing assemblages in adjacent country rocks; this high-pressure mineralogy constituted a primary metamorphism for the Cretaceous-Eocene sedimentary pile, but was overprinted on the Mesozoic prehnite-pumpellyite metagreywackes. 3. (3) Post-Oligocene transcurrent faulting along a northwest-southeast line (the sillon) parallel to the west coast caused at least 150 km of dextral offset of the southwest frontal margin of the Eocene ultramafic nappe. At the present time, the tectonics of the southwest Pacific are related to a series of opposite facing subduction (Benioff) zones connected by transform faults extending from New Britain-Solomon Islands south through the New Hebrides to New Zealand and marking the boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates. Available geologic data from this region suggest that a similar geometry existed during the Tertiary and that the microcontinents of New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand all lay along the former plate boundary which has since migrated north and east by a complex process of sea-floor spreading behind the active island arcs. ?? 1973.

  12. Past and present seafloor age distributions and the temporal evolution of plate tectonic heat transport

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Becker, T. W.; Conrad, C. P.; Buffett, B.; Muller, D.; Loyd, S.; Lithgow-Bertelloni, C.; Corsetti, F.

    2008-12-01

    Variations in the rates of seafloor generation and recycling have potentially far-reaching consequences for sea level, ocean chemistry and climate. A parameterized framework to describe such variations could guide the study of non-uniformitarian plate tectonic activity, but there is little agreement on the appropriate mechanical description of the surface boundary layer. A strong constraint on the statistics of oceanic convection systems comes from the preserved seafloor age distribution, and additional inferences are possible when paleo-seafloor is modeled based on plate motion reconstructions. Based on previously reconstructed seafloor ages, we recently inferred that oceanic heat flow was larger by ~15% at 60~Ma than today. This signal is mainly caused by the smaller plates that existed previously in the Pacific basin with relatively larger ridge-proximal area of young seafloor. The associated decrease in heat flow is larger than any plausible decrease due to cooling, and therefore hint at cyclic behavior in plate tectonics. We also consider area-per-age statistics for the present-day and back to 140~Ma from new paleo-age reconstructions. Using a simplified seafloor age evolution model we explore which physical parameterizations for the average behavior of the oceanic lithosphere are compatible with broad trends in the data. In particular, we show that a subduction probability based on lithospheric buoyancy ("sqrt(age)") leads to results that are comparable to, or better than, that of the probability distribution that is required to obtain the "triangular" age distribution with age-independent destruction of ocean floor. The current, near triangular distribution of ages and the relative lull in heat flow are likely only snapshots of a transient state during the Wilson cycle. Current seafloor ages still contain hints of a ≤sssim 60~Myr period, cyclic variation of seafloor production, and using paleo-ages for 140~Ma, we find a ~ 400~Myr best-fitting variation

  13. The motion and rheology of the Indian plate, and their effects upon Tibetan tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Copley, A.; Avouac, J.; Hollingsworth, J.; Leprince, S.

    2010-12-01

    We describe three inter-related studies which together shed new light on the rheology and dynamics of the Indian plate and the Tibetan Plateau. We begin by describing force-balance calculations in which we have estimated the forces acting upon the Indian plate, and quantified the effects of the India-Asia collision upon the motion of the plate. We then describe a joint inversion of seismic and geodetic data for the distribution of slip in the 2001 Mw 7.6 Bhuj earthquake. By comparing the stress drop in the earthquake with the total force exerted upon the Indian plate by the Tibetan Plateau (estimated from our force-balance calculations) we can infer that the majority of the forces exerted upon the plate are supported by stresses within the seismogenic crust. We show this model is consistent with the distribution of seismicity beneath the Ganges foreland basin. Finally, we discuss the effects of this strong Indian crust upon the deformation of the Tibetan Plateau. We show that spatial variations in tectonic regime within the plateau are the result of the underthrusting of strong Indian crust, and that the surface is mechanically coupled to the deep roots of the mountain range.

  14. Plate tectonics 2.5 billion years ago - Evidence at Kolar, south India

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Krogstad, E. J.; Hanson, G. N.; Balakrishnan, S.; Rajamani, V.; Mukhopadhyay, D. K.

    1989-01-01

    The Archean Kolar Schist Belt, south India, is a suture zone where two gneiss terranes and at least two amphibolite terranes with distinct histories were accreted. Amphibolites from the eastern and western sides of the schist belt have distinct incompatible element and isotopic characteristics suggesting that their volcanic protoliths were derived from different mantle sources. The amphibolite and gneiss terranes were juxtaposed by horizontal compression and shearing between 2530 and 2420 million years ago (Ma) along a zone marked by the Kolar Schist Belt. This history of accretion of discrete crustal terranes resembles those of Phanerozoic convergent margins and thus suggests that plate tectonics operated on earth by 2500 Ma.

  15. Plate tectonics on large exoplanets and the importance of the initial conditions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Noack, Lena; Breuer, Doris

    2013-04-01

    Several numerical studies have been published in the past years speculating about the existence of plate tectonics on large exoplanets. These studies focus on various aspects like the mass of a planet [1,2,3,5], the interior heating rate and mantle temperatures [4,5] and the occurrence of water in the upper mantle [6]. Different trends in the propensity for plate tectonics have been observed in particular when varying the planetary mass: with increasing mass the surface mobilization is found to be either more [2,3,5], equally [3,6] or less [1,4] likely than on Earth. These studies and their implications are, however, difficult to compare as they assume different initial conditions and parameter sets, and either neglect the pressure effect on the viscosity or assume a rather small influence of the pressure on the rheology. Furthermore, the thermal evolution of the planets (i.e. cooling of core and decrease in radioactive heat sources with time) is typically neglected. In our study, we us the finite volume code GAIA [7] and apply a pseudo-plastic rheology. We investigate how a strong pressure-dependence of the viscosity [8] influences not only the convective regime in the lower mantle, but also the upper mantle and hence the likelihood to obtain plate tectonics. We investigate how our results change when assuming different initial conditions, focussing on the initial temperature in the lower mantle and at the core-mantle boundary. We find that the initial temperature conditions have a first-order influence on the likelihood of plate tectonics on large exoplanets and (as observed in earlier studies) surface mobilization may either be more, equally or less likely than on Earth. References [1] O'Neill, C. and A. Lenardic (2007), GRL 34, 1-4. [2] Valencia, D., O'Connell, R.J. and Sasselov, D.D. (2007), Astrophys. J. Let., 670(1):45-48. [3] van Heck, H.J. and Tackley, P.J. (2011), EPSL, 310:252-261. [4] Stein, C.; A. Finnenkötter, J. P. Lowman and U. Hansen (2011), GRL

  16. Using Google Earth to Explore Multiple Data Sets and Plate Tectonic Concepts

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goodell, L. P.

    2015-12-01

    Google Earth (GE) offers an engaging and dynamic environment for exploration of earth science data. While GIS software offers higher-level analytical capability, it comes with a steep learning curve and complex interface that is not easy for the novice, and in many cases the instructor, to negotiate. In contrast, the intuitive interface of GE makes it easy for students to quickly become proficient in manipulating the globe and independently exploring relationships between multiple data sets at a wide range of scales. Inquiry-based, data-rich exercises have been developed for both introductory and upper-level activities including: exploration of plate boundary characteristics and relative motion across plate boundaries; determination and comparison of short-term and long-term average plate velocities; crustal strain analysis (modeled after the UNAVCO activity); and determining earthquake epicenters, body-wave magnitudes, and focal plane solutions. Used successfully in undergraduate course settings, for TA training and for professional development programs for middle and high school teachers, the exercises use the following GE data sets (with sources) that have been collected/compiled by the author and are freely available for non-commercial use: 1) tectonic plate boundaries and plate names (Bird, 2003 model); 2) real-time earthquakes (USGS); 3) 30 years of M>=5.0 earthquakes, plotted by depth (USGS); 4) seafloor age (Mueller et al., 1997, 2008); 5) location and age data for hot spot tracks (published literature); 6) Holocene volcanoes (Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program); 7) GPS station locations with links to times series (JPL, NASA, UNAVCO); 8) short-term motion vectors derived from GPS times series; 9) long-term average motion vectors derived from plate motion models (UNAVCO plate motion calculator); 10) earthquake data sets consisting of seismic station locations and links to relevant seismograms (Rapid Earthquake Viewer, USC/IRIS/DELESE).

  17. Acoustic monitoring of earthquakes along the Blanco Transform Fault zone and Gorda Plate and their tectonic implications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dziak, Robert Paul

    Hydroacoustic tertiary (T-) waves are seismically generated acoustic waves that propagate over great distances in the ocean sound channel with little loss in signal strength. Hydrophone recorded T-waves can provide a lower earthquake detection threshold and an improved epicenter location accuracy for oceanic earthquakes than land-based seismic networks. Thus detection and location of NE Pacific ocean earthquakes along the Blanco Transform Fault (BTFZ) and Gorda plate using the U.S. Navy's SOSUS (SOund SUrveillance System) hydrophone arrays afford greater insight into the current state of stress and crustal deformation mechanics than previously available. Acoustic earthquake information combined with bathymetry, submersible observations, earthquake source- parameter estimates, petrologic samples, and water-column chemistry renders a new tectonic view of the southern Juan de Fuca plate boundaries. Chapter 2 discusses development of seismo-acoustic analysis techniques using the well-documented April 1992 Cape Mendocino earthquake sequence. Findings include a hydrophone detection threshold estimate (M ~ 2.4), and T-wave propagation path modeling to approximate earthquake acoustic source energy. Empirical analyses indicate that acoustic energy provides a reasonable magnitude and seismic moment estimate of oceanic earthquakes not detected by seismic networks. Chapters 3 documents a probable volcanogenic T-wave event swarm along a pull-apart basin within the western BTFZ during January 1994. Response efforts yielded evidence of anomalous water-column 3He concentrations, pillow- lava volcanism, and the first discovery of active hydrothermal vents along an oceanic fracture zone. Chapter 4 discusses the detection of a NE-SW trending microearthquake band along the mid-Gorda plate which was active from initiation of SOSUS recording in August 1991 through July 1992, then abruptly ceased. It is proposed that eventual termination of the Gorda plate seismicity band is due to

  18. Tectonic plates, difficulties for pupils to link models and scientific data.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    David-Ameline, Jacques

    2014-05-01

    In a secondary school in the west of France, I teach Biology and Geology to young pupils from 12 to 15 years old. This poster deals with the difficulties that pupils have to link the scientific data concerning the plate tectonics and the models. I choose to reproduce for pupils some situations that faced some first scientific people as they discovered arguments for the plate tectonics. For example, they have to discover the thickness of the plates by studying the speed of the seismic waves regarding the deepness. That means that they have to construct a curve starting with a table and then to analyze it. The first step is linked to math lessons and is quite easy for them. But the second one needs to mix the curve with its signification. This point is particularly hard and as we correct it, it appears like one moment of « pure science » because they seem to discover something none did before, with the power of their brain ! The second work on this subject is to study the representations of the subduction at an oceanic trench and of the mid-ocean ridge. They first look for drawing explaining what happens for the plates in those places and then they look for proofs that permitted to create those drawings. They really need help to make the difference between scientific data (pictures, curves...) and other drawings similar to the one they choose. For this subject working with documents is not easy because pupils have to ask themselves « what kind of document is it ?» before going further into their thinking. Nevertheless, they often succeed in those works because the teacher helps them a little. Those subjects open their eyes on what science is for a geological theme. It's also a good method to make them having fun doing science and to make them being seduced by making science.

  19. Thermochronology and tectonics of the Leeward Antilles: Evolution of the southern Caribbean Plate boundary zone

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    van der Lelij, Roelant; Spikings, Richard A.; Kerr, Andrew C.; Kounov, Alexandre; Cosca, Michael; Chew, David; Villagomez, Diego

    2010-01-01

    Tectonic reconstructions of the Caribbean Plate are severely hampered by a paucity of geochronologic and exhumation constraints from anastomosed basement blocks along its southern margin. New U/Pb, 40Ar/39Ar, apatite fission track, and apatite (U-Th)/He data constrain quantitative thermal and exhumation histories, which have been used to propose a model for the tectonic evolution of the emergent parts of the Bonaire Block and the southern Caribbean Plate boundary zone. An east facing arc system intruded through an oceanic plateau during ~90 to ~87 Ma and crops out on Aruba. Subsequent structural displacements resulted in >80°C of cooling on Aruba during 70–60 Ma. In contrast, exhumation of the island arc sequence exposed on Bonaire occurred at 85–80 Ma and 55–45 Ma. Santonian exhumation on Bonaire occurred immediately subsequent to burial metamorphism and may have been driven by the collision of a west facing island arc with the Caribbean Plate. Island arc rocks intruded oceanic plateau rocks on Gran Roque at ~65 Ma and exhumed rapidly at 55–45 Ma. We attribute Maastrichtian-Danian exhumation on Aruba and early Eocene exhumation on Bonaire and Gran Roque to sequential diachronous accretion of their basement units to the South American Plate. Widespread unconformities indicate late Eocene subaerial exposure. Late Oligocene–early Miocene dextral transtension within the Bonaire Block drove subsidence and burial of crystalline basement rocks of the Leeward Antilles to ≤1 km. Late Miocene–recent transpression caused inversion and ≤1 km of exhumation, possibly as a result of the northward escape of the Maracaibo Block.

  20. Plate tectonics and orogenic research after 25 years: Synopsis of a Tethyan perspective

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Şengör, A. M. Celâl

    1991-02-01

    Orogeny, the process by which the earth's prominent mountain ranges are constructed, is herein defined as a collective term for convergent margin processes. The recognition that strains and displacements of very considerable magnitude occur along all of the three dimensions within an orogenic belt has grown gradually during the last two centuries. Investigation of orogenic belts along cross-sections reveals that there are a large number of types of orogenic belts. These are divided into four main orders ( transpressional, subduction-controlled, obduction-controlled, and collision-controlled) consisting of two superfamilies, eight families, and twenty genera. Cross-sectional studies of orogenic belts show that the cross-sectional area during orogeny is not conserved. Similarly, map-view studies of orogenic belts reveal that an absolute minimum of 60% (by length) of them display significant strike-slip motion along their trend which leads also to a non-conservation of the cross-sectional area during orogeny. Thus, rigorous line and area balancing across orogenic belts now is not possible. Large orogenic belts are commonly made up of tectonic collages of microcontinents, island arcs, and accretionary complexes, generally disrupted to form smaller, fault-bounded tectonic entities of diverse sorts. The recently developed "terrane analysis" was developed to aid the study of these but it resembles the early concepts of Alpine nappes and is found to be a retrogressive step in tectonic research mainly because of its disclaim of most genetic connotations. The temporal aspects of orogeny have been debated for over 200 years in terms of continuous vs. world-wide, synchronously episodic orogeny. Plate tectonics has provided a rigorous rationale and something approaching a consensus for continuous orogeny. I conclude that there are as yet no shortcuts to establishing the kinematics of continental deformation except by the traditional methods of field geology aided by relevant

  1. Ophiolitic Chromitites from the Andriamena Greenstone Belt, Madagascar: Possible Evidence for mid-Archean Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Reisberg, L. C.; Ohnenstetter, M.; Zimmermann, C.; Ratefiarimino, A.; Levy, D.

    2015-12-01

    Determining the time of the onset of plate tectonics is critical to understanding the geodynamic processes that controlled the evolution of the early Earth. The near absence of Archean ophiolites, as defined by the presence of a residual ultramafic section, has been considered to be one of the primary arguments against Archean plate tectonics. The Andriamena greenstone belt of Madagascar contains massive chromitite bodies consisting of about 90% chromite and about 10% gangue minerals, mostly secondary (talc, green amphibole, orthopyroxene, Ca and Mg carbonate). Numerous observations argue in favor of an ophiolitic origin for these chromitites, including the high Cr# (0.67-0.74), coupled with relatively high Mg# (0.6-0.78) of the constituent chromite. In addition, these phases display extremely low TiO2 contents (<0.25%), which are also characteristic of ophiolites and possibly suggestive of an arc environment. Though in many places the chromitite is in tectonic contact with a variety of unrelated igneous lithologies, remnants of apparently cogenetic ultramafic rock types, including dunites, harzburgites, and some pyroxenites are sometimes immediately juxtaposed with the chromitite. The very high Fo content of the olivine in the associated dunite, as high as 0.95, also attests to an ophiolitic provenance. Platinum group element (PGE) and 187Os/188Os analyses were performed on several chromitite samples. Chondrite normalized PGE spectra display marked depletions in PPGE relative to IPGE, with (Pt/Ir)N ranging from ~0 to 0.09, though Pd contents are somewhat less depleted than those of Pt. The observed PPGE depletion is another feature characteristic of ophiolitic chromitites. The IPGE enrichment is consistent with the presence of laurite microinclusions in the chromite revealed by SEM. Os isotopic compositions are tightly clustered, with 187Os/188Os ranging from 0.1057 to 0.1059, corresponding to TRD model ages of ~ 3.2 Ga, assuming primitive upper mantle parameters

  2. Evidence for long-lived subduction of an ancient tectonic plate beneath the southern Indian Ocean

    SciTech Connect

    Simmons, N. A.; Myers, S. C.; Johannesson, G.; Matzel, E.; Grand, S. P.

    2015-11-14

    In this study, ancient subducted tectonic plates have been observed in past seismic images of the mantle beneath North America and Eurasia, and it is likely that other ancient slab structures have remained largely hidden, particularly in the seismic-data-limited regions beneath the vast oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Here we present a new global tomographic image, which shows a slab-like structure beneath the southern Indian Ocean with coherency from the upper mantle to the core-mantle boundary region—a feature that has never been identified. We postulate that the structure is an ancient tectonic plate that sank into the mantle along an extensive intraoceanic subduction zone that migrated southwestward across the ancient Tethys Ocean in the Mesozoic Era. Slab material still trapped in the transition zone is positioned near the edge of East Gondwana at 140 Ma suggesting that subduction terminated near the margin of the ancient continent prior to breakup and subsequent dispersal of its subcontinents.

  3. Evidence for long-lived subduction of an ancient tectonic plate beneath the southern Indian Ocean

    DOE PAGESBeta

    Simmons, N. A.; Myers, S. C.; Johannesson, G.; Matzel, E.; Grand, S. P.

    2015-11-14

    In this study, ancient subducted tectonic plates have been observed in past seismic images of the mantle beneath North America and Eurasia, and it is likely that other ancient slab structures have remained largely hidden, particularly in the seismic-data-limited regions beneath the vast oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. Here we present a new global tomographic image, which shows a slab-like structure beneath the southern Indian Ocean with coherency from the upper mantle to the core-mantle boundary region—a feature that has never been identified. We postulate that the structure is an ancient tectonic plate that sank into the mantle along anmore » extensive intraoceanic subduction zone that migrated southwestward across the ancient Tethys Ocean in the Mesozoic Era. Slab material still trapped in the transition zone is positioned near the edge of East Gondwana at 140 Ma suggesting that subduction terminated near the margin of the ancient continent prior to breakup and subsequent dispersal of its subcontinents.« less

  4. Playing jigsaw with large igneous provinces - a plate-tectonic reconstruction of Ontong Java Nui

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hochmuth, Katharina; Gohl, Karsten; Uenzelmann-Neben, Gabriele; Werner, Reinhard

    2015-04-01

    Ontong Java Nui is a Cretaceous large igneous province (LIP), which was rifted apart into various smaller plateaus shortly after its emplacement around 125 Ma in the central Pacific. It incorporated the Ontong Java Plateau, the Hikurangi Plateau and the Manihiki Plateau as well as multiple smaller fragments, which have been subducted. Its size has been estimated to be approximately 0.8% of the Earth's surface. A volcanic edifice of this size has potentially had a great impact on the environment such as its CO2 release. The break-up of the "Super"-LIP is poorly constrained, because the break-up and subsequent seafloor spreading occurred within the Cretaceous Quiet Period. The Manihiki Plateau is presumably the centerpiece of this "Super"-LIP and shows by its margins and internal fragmentation that its tectonic and volcanic activity is related to the break-up of Ontong Java Nui. By incorporating two new seismic refraction/wide-angle reflection lines across two of the main sub-plateaus of the Manihiki Plateau, we can classify the break-up modes of the individual margins of the Manihiki Plateau. The Western Plateaus experienced crustal stretching due to the westward motion of the Ontong Java Plateau. The High Plateau shows sharp strike-slip movements at its eastern boundary towards an earlier part of Ontong Java Nui, which is has been subducted, and a rifted margin with a strong volcanic overprint at its southern edges towards the Hikurangi Plateau. These observations allow us a re-examination of the conjugate margins of the Hikurangi Plateau and the Ontong Java Plateau. The repositioning of the different plateaus leads to the conclusion that Ontong Java Nui was larger (~1.2% of the Earth's surface at emplacement) than previously anticipated. We use these finding to improve the plate tectonic reconstruction of the Cretaceous Pacific and to illuminate the role of the LIPs within the plate tectonic circuit in the western and central Pacific.

  5. Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    John Dewey will complete his term as editor-in-chief of Tectonics at the end of 1984. Clark Burchfiel's term as North American Editor will also end. Tectonics is published jointly with the European Geophysical Society. This newest of AGU's journals has already established itself as an important journal bridging the concerns of geophysics and geology.James A. Van Allen, president of AGU, has appointed a committee to recommend candidates for both editor-in-chief and North American editor for the 1985-1987 term.

  6. Tectonics of the Scotia-Antarctica plate boundary constrained from seismic and seismological data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Civile, D.; Lodolo, E.; Vuan, A.; Loreto, M. F.

    2012-07-01

    The plate boundary between the Scotia and Antarctic plates runs along the broadly E-W trending South Scotia Ridge. It is a mainly transcurrent margin that juxtaposes thinned continental and transitional crust elements with restricted oceanic basins and deep troughs. Seismic profiles and regional-scale seismological constraints are used to define the peculiarities of the crustal structures in and around the southern Scotia Sea, and focal solutions from recent earthquakes help to understand the present-day geodynamic setting. The northern edge of the western South Scotia Ridge is marked by a sub-vertical, left-lateral master fault. Locally, a narrow wedge of accreted sediments is present at the base of the slope. This segment represents the boundary between the Scotia plate and the independent South Shetland continental block. Along the northern margin of the South Orkney microcontinent, the largest fragment of the South Scotia Ridge, an accretionary prism is present at the base of the slope, which was possibly created by the eastward drift of the South Orkney microcontinent and the consequent subduction of the transitional crust present to the north. East of the South Orkney microcontinent, the physiography and structure of the plate boundary are less constrained. Here the tectonic regime exhibits mainly strike-slip behavior with some grade of extensional component, and the plate boundary is segmented by a series of NNW-SSE trending release zones which favored the fragmentation and dispersion of the crustal blocks. Seismic data have also identified, along the north-western edge of the South Scotia Ridge, an elevated region - the Ona Platform - which can be considered, along with the Terror Rise, as the conjugate margin of the Tierra del Fuego, before the Drake Passage opening. We propose here an evolutionary sketch for the plate boundary (from the Late Oligocene to the present) encompassing the segment from the Elephant Island platform to the Herdman Bank.

  7. Investigating the Subduction History of the Southwest Pacific using Coupled Plate Tectonic-Mantle Convection Models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Matthews, K. J.; Flament, N. E.; Williams, S.; Müller, D.; Gurnis, M.

    2014-12-01

    The Late Cretaceous to mid Eocene (~85-45 Ma) evolution of the southwest Pacific has been the subject of starkly contrasting plate reconstruction models, reflecting sparse and ambiguous data. Disparate models of (1) west-dipping subduction and back-arc basin opening to the east of the Lord Howe Rise, (2) east-dipping subduction and back-arc basin closure to the east of the Lord Howe Rise, and (3) tectonic quiescence with no subduction have all been proposed for this time frame. To help resolve this long-standing problem we test a new southwest Pacific reconstruction using global mantle flow models with imposed plate motions. The kinematic model incorporates east to northeast directed rollback of a west-dipping subduction zone between 85 and 55 Ma, accommodating opening of the South Loyalty back-arc basin to the east of New Caledonia. At 55 Ma there is a plate boundary reorganization in the region. West-dipping subduction and back-arc basin spreading end, and there is initiation of northeast dipping subduction within the back-arc basin. Consumption of South Loyalty Basin seafloor continues until 45 Ma, when obduction onto New Caledonia begins. West-dipping Tonga-Kermadec subduction initiates at this time at the relict Late Cretaceous-earliest Eocene subduction boundary. We use the 3D spherical mantle convection code CitcomS coupled to the plate reconstruction software GPlates, with plate motions and evolving plate boundaries imposed since 230 Ma. The predicted present-day mantle structure is compared to S- and P-wave seismic tomography models, which can be used to infer the presence of slab material in the mantle at locations where fast velocity anomalies are imaged. This workflow enables us to assess the forward-modeled subduction history of the region.

  8. Evolution of the western segment of Juan Fernández Ridge (Nazca Plate): plume vs. plate tectonic processes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lara, Luis E.; Rodrigo, Cristián; Reyes, Javier; Orozco, Gabriel

    2014-05-01

    The Juan Fernandez Ridge (Eastern Pacific, Nazca Plate) is thought to be a classic hot spot trail because of the apparent age progression observed in 40Ar-39Ar data. However, geological evidence and some thermochronological data suggest a more complex pattern with a rejuvenation stage in Robinson Crusoe Island, the most eroded of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago. In fact, a postshield stage at 900-700 ka separates the underlying shield-related pile from the post-erosional alkaline succession (Ba/Yb=38.15; La/Yb=15.66; Ba/Y=20.27; Ba/Zr=2.31). Shield volcanoes grew at high effusion rate at ca. 5-4 Ma erupting mostly tholeiitic to transitional magmas (Ba/Yb=18.07-8.32; La/Yb=4.59-9.84; Ba/Y=4.24-8.18; Ba/Zr=0.73-1.09). Taken together, shield volcanoes form a continuous plateau with a base at ca. 3900 mbsl. However, a more complex structural pattern can be inferred from geophysical data, which suggest some intracrustal magma storage and a more extended area of magma ascent. A role for the Challenger Fracture Zone is hypothesized fueling the controversy between pristine plume origin and the effect of plate tectonic processes in the origin of intraplate volcanism. This research is supported by FONDECYT Project 1110966.

  9. The effect of plate movements in the northern region of South America on tectonics and sedimentation in the Eastern Llanos Basin

    SciTech Connect

    Pena, L.E. )

    1993-02-01

    The geological configuration of the Eastern Llanos pericratonic mega-basin has been directly affected by the overall tectonic regime experienced in the Northern part of South America. Interaction between the Pacific (Cocos), South American and Caribbean Plates generated a regional compressional dextral rotational force expressed as a regional North-South striking structural trend in the southern part of the basin and an east-west striking trend in portion nearest the Caribbean Plate Boundary. Nearly 90% of the strike-slip faults in this northern area show right lateral displacement. The majority of the structures in the East Llanos basin are related to the Late Miocene uplift of the Eastern Andes. Nevertheless we can subdivide the structures into two major groups: pre-Miocene and post-Miocene. By being able to recognize pre-Miocene Cretaceous age structures, much altered by later movements, we can envision remigration of hydrocarbons out of early traps into those created more recently. Plate tectonic events in the north of South America have produced a general regional structure strike directional through time. Sedimentary-tectonic relationships depend upon regional phenomena which, if interpreted correctly, help to sub-divide the mega-basin into genetically related parts. By understanding the mechanism that creates large scale structural features, the geologist is thus provided with an important tool that can aid him in exploring the Eastern Llanos basin.

  10. The emergence of seismic cycles from stress feedback between intra-plate faulting and far-field tectonic loading

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    So, Byung-Dal; Capitanio, Fabio A.

    2016-08-01

    Using numerical modeling we show the emergence of cyclic slip behavior of faults from stress feedback through an idealized fault, its surrounding plates and far-field tectonic stress. The tectonic stress is exerted on the fault through a force applied along an idealized plate margin, acting on the fault, resulting from the interactions of viscous embedding and external plates. We find that, in such coupled system, the interaction of plates results into feedback with periodic deformation, slip along the fault and episodic plate margin motions. The viscosity of the embedding and loading plates primarily control the stress-loading time and hence the slip recurrence interval. For an Earth-like range of lithospheric viscosities, we derive a power-law with negative exponent, -0.99 to -0.5, scaling the recurrence period with loading-rate, providing an explanation for the observables from paleoseismology and geodesy. The feedback between single fault and far-field stress that arises from interactions of deforming plates provides a context to understand the earthquake cycle within continents, while reconciling the short-term seismic deformation to the long-term plate tectonics frame.

  11. Plate Tectonics Initiation on Earth-Like Planets: Insights From Numerical and Theoretical Analysis of Convection-Induced Lithospheric Failure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wong, Teresa

    Plate tectonics is central to many aspects of the geology and evolution of terrestrial planets, yet it is only observed on the Earth while all other known planets are covered with a stagnant lithosphere. Plate motions on the Earth are mostly driven by the pull of subducting slabs, therefore understanding the initiation of subduction is crucial to understanding plate tectonics initiation. On a one-plate planet which lacks the forces due to plate motions, some other mechanisms will have to cause the first episode of subduction to mobilize the surface. Sublithospheric convection has been proposed as a possible mechanism that induce stresses in the lithosphere. The question is whether these stresses can initiate subduction. We develop scaling laws for the criterion of lithospheric failure from single-cell steady-state convection, which has more controlled flow and thus easier to analyze. We show that these scaling laws are applicable to time-dependent convection. We also investigate the time-dependent behavior of convection to understand the factors controlling the timing of lithospheric failure. We find that the variation in timing not only systematically depends on the physical parameters of the convecting mantle; for convective systems with the same set of parameters, small variations in initial conditions result in different structures of the lithosphere. This changes the stresses in the lithosphere and gives rise to different times of lithospheric failure. This study suggests that it is important to address the question of when plate tectonics can initiate on a planet, in addition to finding favorable conditions for lithospheric failure. We extrapolate the scaling laws to planetary conditions to assess the feasibility of plate tectonics for terrestrial planets, and estimate whether plate tectonics can happen in reasonable planetary lifetimes.

  12. Melting-induced crustal production helps plate tectonics on Earth-like planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lourenço, Diogo L.; Rozel, Antoine; Tackley, Paul J.

    2016-04-01

    Within our Solar System, Earth is the only planet to be in a mobile-lid regime. It is generally accepted that the other terrestrial planets are currently in a stagnant-lid regime, with the possible exception of Venus that may be in an episodic-lid regime (Armann and Tackley, JGR 2012). Using plastic yielding to self-consistently generate plate tectonics on an Earth-like planet with strongly temperature-dependent viscosity is now well-established, but such models typically focus on purely thermal convection, whereas compositional variations in the lithosphere can alter the stress state and greatly influence the likelihood of plate tectonics. For example, Rolf and Tackley (GRL, 2011) showed that the addition of a continent can reduce the critical yield stress for mobile-lid behaviour by a factor of around two. Moreover, it has been shown that the final tectonic state of the system can depend on the initial condition (Tackley, G3 2000 - part 2). Weller and Lenardic (GRL, 2012) found that the parameter range in which two solutions are obtained increases with viscosity contrast. We can also say that partial melting has a major role in the long-term evolution of rocky planets: (1) partial melting causes differentiation in both major elements and trace elements, which are generally incompatible (Hofmann, Nature 1997). Trace elements may contain heat-producing isotopes, which contribute to the heat loss from the interior; (2) melting and volcanism are an important heat loss mechanism at early times that act as a strong thermostat, buffering mantle temperatures and preventing it from getting too hot (Xie and Tackley, JGR 2004b); (3) mantle melting dehydrates and hardens the shallow part of the mantle (Hirth and Kohlstedt, EPSL 1996) and introduces viscosity and compositional stratifications in the shallow mantle due to viscosity variations with the loss of hydrogen upon melting (Faul and Jackson, JGR 2007; Korenaga and Karato, JGR 2008). We present a set of 2D spherical

  13. Past and present seafloor age distributions and the temporal evolution of plate tectonic heat transport

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Becker, Thorsten W.; Conrad, Clinton P.; Buffett, Bruce; Müller, R. Dietmar

    2009-02-01

    Variations in Earth's rates of seafloor generation and recycling have far-reaching consequences for sea level, ocean chemistry, and climate. However, there is little agreement on the correct parameterization for the time-dependent evolution of plate motions. A strong constraint is given by seafloor age distributions, which are affected by variations in average spreading rate, ridge length, and the age distribution of seafloor being removed by subduction. Using a simplified evolution model, we explore which physical parameterizations of these quantities are compatible with broad trends in the area per seafloor age statistics for the present-day and back to 140 Ma from paleo-age reconstructions. We show that a probability of subduction based on plate buoyancy (slab-pull, or "sqrt(age)") and a time-varying spreading rate fits the observed age distributions as well as, or better than, a subduction probability consistent with an unvarying "triangular" age distribution and age-independent destruction of ocean floor. Instead, we interpret the present near-triangular distribution of ages as a snapshot of a transient state of the evolving oceanic plate system. Current seafloor ages still contain hints of a ˜ 60 Myr periodicity in seafloor production, and using paleoages, we find that a ˜ 250 Myr period variation is consistent with geologically-based reconstructions of production rate variations. These long-period variations also imply a decrease of oceanic heat flow by ˜ - 0.25%/Ma during the last 140 Ma, caused by a 25-50% decrease in the rate of seafloor production. Our study offers an improved understanding of the non-uniformitarian evolution of plate tectonics and the interplay between continental cycles and the self-organization of the oceanic plates.

  14. Modeling the Philippine Mobile Belt: Tectonic blocks in a deforming plate boundary zone

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Galgana, G. A.; Hamburger, M. W.; McCaffrey, R.; Bacolcol, T. C.; Aurelio, M. A.

    2007-12-01

    The Philippine Mobile Belt, a seismically active, rapidly deforming plate boundary zone situated along the convergent Philippine Sea/Eurasian plate boundary, is examined using geodetic and seismological data. Oblique convergence between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian plate is accommodated by nearly orthogonal subduction along the Philippine Trench and the Manila Trench, as well as by strike-slip faulting along the Philippine Fault system. We develop a model of active plate boundary deformation in this region, using elastic block models constrained by known fault geometries, published GPS observations and focal mechanism solutions. We then present an estimate of block rotations, fault coupling, and intra-block deformation, based on the best-fit model that minimizes the misfit between observed and predicted geodetic vectors and earthquake slip vectors. Slip rates along the Philippine fault vary from ~22 - 36 mm/yr in the Central Visayas and about 10 to 40 mm/yr in Luzon, trending almost parallel to the fault trace. In northern Luzon, Philippine Fault splays accommodate transpressional strain. The Central Visayas block experiences convergence with the Sundaland block along the Negros Trench and the Mindoro-Palawan collision zone. On the eastern side of Central Visayas, sinistral strike-slip faulting occurs along the NNW-SSE-trending Philippine Fault. Mindanao Island in southern Philippines is dominated by east-verging subduction along the Cotabato Trench, and strain partitioning (strike- slip faulting with west-verging subduction) in eastern Mindanao along the southern Philippine Fault and Philippine Trench, respectively. Oblique active sinistral strike slip faults in Central and Eastern Mindanao that were hypothesized to be responsible for basin formation are obvious boundaries for tectonic blocks. Located south of Mindanao Island we define an adjoining oceanic block defined by the N-S trending complex dual subduction zone of Sangihe and Halmahera

  15. Micro-plate tectonics and kinematics in Northeast Asia inferred from a dense set of GPS observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jin, Shuanggen; Park, Pil-Ho; Zhu, Wenyao

    2007-05-01

    The plate tectonics of Northeast Asia are very complex with diffuse and sparse seismicity in the broad plate deformation zones embedded by a number of micro-plates, particularly the controversial Amurian plate. Now the increasingly dense GPS networks in this area provide an important tool to investigate plate tectonic kinematics and to identify the approximate plate tectonic geometries. In this paper, we have processed GPS data (1998-2005) collected by an extensive GPS network (China and South Korea) with more than 85 continuous sites and about 1000 campaign GPS stations. The kinematics of Northeast Asia is studied by modeling GPS-derived velocities with rigid block rotations and elastic deformation. We find that the deformation in Northeast Asia can be well described by a number of rotating blocks, which are independent of the Eurasian plate motion with statistical significance above the 99% confidence level. The tectonic boundary between the North China and Amuria plates is the Yin Shan-Yan Shan Mountain belts with about 2.4 mm/yr extension. Along the boundary between North China and South China, the Qinling-Dabie fault is moving left laterally at about 3.1 mm/yr. The Amuria and South Korea blocks are extending at about 1.8 mm/yr. The Baikal Rift between the Amurian and Eurasian plates is spreading at about 3.0 mm/yr. The 9-17 mm/yr relative motion between the Amuria and Okhotsk blocks is accommodated at the East Sea-Japan trench zone. Localized deformation near the Qinling-Dabie fault and Yin Shan-Yan Shan Mountain belts may be elastic strain accumulation due to interseismic locking of faults.

  16. Integrating Plate Tectonic Reconstruction and Mantle Dynamics: A valuable Aid in Frontier Exploration

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hafkenscheid, Edith; Warners-Ruckstuhl, Karin; van Oosterhout, Cees; Bergman, Steve; Davies, J. Huw; Govers, Rob; Hochard, Cyril; Kennan, Lorcan; Ross, Malcolm; Stampfli, Gérard M.; Vérard, Christan; Webb, Peter; Wortel, Rinus

    2013-04-01

    Effective hydrocarbon exploration in frontier regions requires an understanding of the tectonic and thermal evolution of basins, among other parameters or conditions. This is especially challenging when high-resolution local data are lacking, requiring reasonable interpolation and extrapolation of more regional knowledge. Some of the key first-order parameters influencing the presence and preservation of an economic petroleum system are the basin's vertical motion history and its thermal and stress evolution. To quantify these parameters in a physically consistent manner over several hundred million years, an integrated lithosphere-mantle dynamics modeling approach is needed. To this purpose, we embarked on developing a 3D dynamic model for the whole earth that links surface phenomena to mantle convection and lithosphere dynamics. The project involved a close collaboration between Shell and three universities, and integration of many disciplines and techniques. University of Lausanne developed 600-0 Ma global plate reconstructions with consistently evolving plate boundaries. The 300-0 Ma period was then adapted to be used as surface boundary condition for forward mantle convection modeling by Cardiff University, producing global predictions of base lithosphere temperatures, heat flow and mantle induced vertical surface motion through time. As a last step, Utrecht University developed a method to predict the lithospheric stress field through time based on integration of these mantle modeling results with the plate reconstruction model. This approach offers predictive scenarios and grids relevant to petroleum exploration that can be validated with local geological and geophysical data.

  17. The boundary between the Indian and Asian tectonic plates below Tibet

    PubMed Central

    Zhao, Junmeng; Yuan, Xiaohui; Liu, Hongbing; Kumar, Prakash; Pei, Shunping; Kind, Rainer; Zhang, Zhongjie; Teng, Jiwen; Ding, Lin; Gao, Xing; Xu, Qiang; Wang, Wei

    2010-01-01

    The fate of the colliding Indian and Asian tectonic plates below the Tibetan high plateau may be visualized by, in addition to seismic tomography, mapping the deep seismic discontinuities, like the crust-mantle boundary (Moho), the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB), or the discontinuities at 410 and 660 km depth. We herein present observations of seismic discontinuities with the P and S receiver function techniques beneath central and western Tibet along two new profiles and discuss the results in connection with results from earlier profiles, which did observe the LAB. The LAB of the Indian and Asian plates is well-imaged by several profiles and suggests a changing mode of India-Asia collision in the east-west direction. From eastern Himalayan syntaxis to the western edge of the Tarim Basin, the Indian lithosphere is underthrusting Tibet at an increasingly shallower angle and reaching progressively further to the north. A particular lithospheric region was formed in northern and eastern Tibet as a crush zone between the two colliding plates, the existence of which is marked by high temperature, low mantle seismic wavespeed (correlating with late arriving signals from the 410 discontinuity), poor Sn propagation, east and southeast oriented global positioning system displacements, and strikingly larger seismic (SKS) anisotropy. PMID:20534567

  18. New Paleomagnetic Justification for the Plate Tectonic Reconstruction of the Arctic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Metelkin, D. V.; Vernikovskiy, V. A.; Matushkin, N. Y.; Zhdanova, A.; Mikhaltsov, N. E.; Abashev, V. V.; Kulakov, E.

    2015-12-01

    We report paleomagnetic and geologic data that support a new plate tectonic reconstruction for the Arctic from the Neoproterozoic to Mesozoic. We propose a new outlook on the history of the Arctida paleocontinent, which combined sialic blocks of the present Eurasian shelf of the Arctic Ocean. Our model implies two Arctidas at that time. The earlier Arctida-I was located near equator and connected the continental margins of Laurentia, Baltica and Siberia within the supercontinent of Rodinia. The Arcrtida-I disintegration was caused by a breakup of Rodinia. As a result, small plates like on Svalbard, Kara, New Siberia Island (NSI) terrane and others were formed. We have reconstructed the main stages of later remobilization and global drift of these plates before Pangea assemblage. In contrast to traditional interpretation of the NSI as a part of the Chukchi-Alaska terrane, our observation suggest a linkage between the NSI and Kolyma-Omolon terrane that framed Siberia. As a result of Pangea assembly at Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary the second recovery of Arctida took place. We assume that Arctida-II also connected Laurentia, Baltica, and Siberia but constituted the Pangean periphery in the temperate latitudes. The later Arctida-II disintegrated during the Mesozoic during the opening of Arctic Ocean.

  19. The boundary between the Indian and Asian tectonic plates below Tibet.

    PubMed

    Zhao, Junmeng; Yuan, Xiaohui; Liu, Hongbing; Kumar, Prakash; Pei, Shunping; Kind, Rainer; Zhang, Zhongjie; Teng, Jiwen; Ding, Lin; Gao, Xing; Xu, Qiang; Wang, Wei

    2010-06-22

    The fate of the colliding Indian and Asian tectonic plates below the Tibetan high plateau may be visualized by, in addition to seismic tomography, mapping the deep seismic discontinuities, like the crust-mantle boundary (Moho), the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB), or the discontinuities at 410 and 660 km depth. We herein present observations of seismic discontinuities with the P and S receiver function techniques beneath central and western Tibet along two new profiles and discuss the results in connection with results from earlier profiles, which did observe the LAB. The LAB of the Indian and Asian plates is well-imaged by several profiles and suggests a changing mode of India-Asia collision in the east-west direction. From eastern Himalayan syntaxis to the western edge of the Tarim Basin, the Indian lithosphere is underthrusting Tibet at an increasingly shallower angle and reaching progressively further to the north. A particular lithospheric region was formed in northern and eastern Tibet as a crush zone between the two colliding plates, the existence of which is marked by high temperature, low mantle seismic wavespeed (correlating with late arriving signals from the 410 discontinuity), poor Sn propagation, east and southeast oriented global positioning system displacements, and strikingly larger seismic (SKS) anisotropy. PMID:20534567

  20. Interactive Ocean Observatories are Essential for Global Assessment of Plate-tectonically Modulated Microbial Input to the Deep Ocean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Delaney, J.; Team, K.

    2004-12-01

    A major new planetary-scale research thrust can only be addressed with interactive, next-generation ocean-observatory capabilities. These new research opportunities arise from the possibility that input into the ocean of chemosynthetically derived microbial biomass from below the seafloor rivals the biomass from primary photosynthetic productivity near the top of the ocean. All three types of plate boundaries and many plate interiors vent microbe-bearing fluids into the deep ocean continuously AND episodically. Unpredicted episodes increase nutrient output and venting volume by as much as a factor of 100 for weeks to months at a time (Lilley et al.,2003, Nature). Because of the highly non-linear nature of these fluxes, quantification of such processes represents essential, but unconstrained, variables in equations for carbon budgets and bio-flux in the deep ocean. Triggering events and their induced fluxes must be detected, located, responded to, and quantified before their relative importance to the global-ocean system can be evaluated. Addressing these issues requires an essential new capability in the ocean sciences. High-power and high-bandwidth cabled systems will enable remote and long-term experimentation with processes via thousands of stationary and/or mobile sensor platforms on, below, and above the seafloor. The Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks (ORION) program is currently working with NEPTUNE Canada to produce a plate-tectonic-scale, regional cabled ocean observatory (RCO), an ideal platform for adaptive surveillance and quantitative response to fluid-flux generating events at the margins and interior of the Juan de Fuca (JdF) Plate. The W. M. Keck Foundation is supporting a pre-NEPTUNE exploration of the linked processes involved in the deformation-fluid/microbial flux concept. Thirteen seismometers (3 broadband, 10 short-period) and 45 fluid-movement/chemical sensors are co-deployed on three different, but adjacent, plate boundaries at

  1. Plate Tectonics 2.0: Using GPS to Refine Global Crustal Kinematics and Rewrite Textbooks

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kreemer, C.; Blewitt, G.; Stamps, D. S.; Saria, E.

    2015-12-01

    Any model of the Earth's inner workings should be consistent with the observed motion and deformation at its surface. The whole idea that the entire Earth's surface comprises of a dozen or so tectonic plates with no deformation in between them (as most textbooks will tell you) is embarrassingly outdated. The advent of high-precision GNSS measurements of crustal motion has led to the direct observation of plate motion, the confirmation of plate rigidity, and the refinement of crustal kinematics in diffuse plate boundary zones. With the rapidly growing number of continuous GPS (cGPS) stations (as well as campaign-style measurements) some of the earlier results can now be reassessed while at the same time we can continue to quantify the motion and deformation of a large part of the Earth's surface. We present the latest version (v. 2.2) of the Global Strain Rate Model (GSRM), which is almost entirely constrained by horizontal GPS velocities. The model contains the rigid-body rotations of 50 plates as well as strain rate and vorticity estimates at a high spatial resolution for the ~14% of the Earth's surface that is caught up in between the plates. Resulting global or regional maps of dilatation, vorticity, and strain tensor amplitude and style, are poised to augment standard textbook images of plate motions, and we anticipate that they will foster further scientific and educational inquiry. GSRM v2.2 is constrained by >24,000 velocities. Of those ~7900 were determined by us from time-series that we obtained through a routine processing of all globally available RINEX data. Many of these stations were not installed with the intention to track crustal motions, but often are very usable. This station category is currently the biggest contributor to the data explosion; our solution has >1100 more stations compared with the previous solution of just 18 months ago. We transform to our solution GPS velocities from >250 published studies, >30 more than in the previous

  2. The effect of melting and crustal production on plate tectonics on terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Louro Lourenço, D. J.; Tackley, P. J.

    2013-12-01

    Within the Solar System, Earth is the only planet to be in a mobile-lid regime, whilst it is generally accepted that all the other terrestrial planets are currently in a stagnant-lid regime, showing little or no surface motion. A transitional regime between these two, showing episodic overturns of an unstable stagnant lid, is also possible and has been proposed for Venus (Armann and Tackley, JGR 2012). Using plastic yielding to self-consistently generate plate tectonics on an Earth-like planet with strongly temperature-dependent viscosity is now well-established, but such models typically focus on purely thermal convection, whereas compositional variations in the lithosphere can alter the stress state and greatly influence the likelihood of plate tectonics. For example, Rolf and Tackley (GRL, 2011) showed that the addition of a continent can reduce the critical yield stress for mobile-lid behaviour by a factor of around 2. Moreover, it has been shown that the final state of the system (stagnant- or mobile-lid) can depend on the initial condition (Tackley, G3 2000 - part 2); Weller and Lenardic (GRL, 2012) found that the parameter range in which two solutions are obtained increases with viscosity contrast. We can also say that partial melting has a major role in the long-term evolution of rocky planets: (1) partial melting causes differentiation in both major elements (like Fe and Si) and trace elements, which are generally incompatible (Hofmann, Nature 1997). Trace elements may contain heat-producing isotopes, which contribute to the heat loss from the interior; (2) melting and volcanism are an important heat loss mechanism at early times that act as a strong thermostat, buffering mantle temperatures and preventing it from getting too hot (Xie and Tackley, JGR 2004b; Armann and Tackley, JGR 2012); (3) mantle melting dehydrates and hardens the shallow part of the mantle (Hirth and Kohlstedt, EPSL 1996) and introduces viscosity and compositional stratifications in

  3. A Pilot Search for Evidence of Extrasolar Earth-analog Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jura, M.; Klein, B.; Xu, S.; Young, E. D.

    2014-08-01

    Relative to calcium, both strontium and barium are markedly enriched in Earth's continental crust compared to the basaltic crusts of other differentiated rocky bodies within the solar system. Here, we both re-examine available archived Keck spectra to place upper bounds on n(Ba)/n(Ca) and revisit published results for n(Sr)/n(Ca) in two white dwarfs that have accreted rocky planetesimals. We find that at most only a small fraction of the pollution is from crustal material that has experienced the distinctive elemental enhancements induced by Earth-analog plate tectonics. In view of the intense theoretical interest in the physical structure of extrasolar rocky planets, this search should be extended to additional targets.

  4. Plate tectonics and offshore boundary delimitation: Tunisia-Libya case at the International Court of Justice

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stanley, Daniel Jean

    1982-03-01

    The first major offshore boundary dispute where plate tectonics constituted a significant argument was recently brought before the International Court of Justice by Libya and Tunisia concerning the delimitation of their continental shelves. Libya placed emphasis on this concept to determine natural prolongation of its land territory under the sea. Tunisia contested use of the entire African continental landmass as a reference unit and views geography, geomorphology and bathymetry as relevant as geology. The Court pronounced that “It is the outcome, not the evolution in the long-distant past, which is of importance.” Moreover, it is the present-day configuration of coasts and seabed that are the main factors, not geology.

  5. Satellite Elevation Magnetic and Gravity Models of Major South American Plate Tectonic Features

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Vonfrese, R. R. B.; Hinze, W. J.; Braile, L. W.; Lidiak, E. G.; Keller, G. R. (Principal Investigator); Longacre, M. B.

    1984-01-01

    Some MAGSAT scalar and vector magnetic anomaly data together with regional gravity anomaly data are being used to investigate the regional tectonic features of the South American Plate. An initial step in this analysis is three dimensional modeling of magnetic and gravity anomalies of major structures such as the Andean subduction zone and the Amazon River Aulacogen at satellite elevations over an appropriate range of physical properties using Gaus-Legendre quadrature integration method. In addition, one degree average free-air gravity anomalies of South America and adjacent marine areas are projected to satellite elevations assuming a spherical Earth and available MAGSAT data are processed to obtain compatible data sets for correlation. Correlation of these data sets is enhanced by reduction of the MAGSAT data to radial polarization because of the profound effect of the variation of the magnetic inclination over South America.

  6. A PILOT SEARCH FOR EVIDENCE OF EXTRASOLAR EARTH-ANALOG PLATE TECTONICS

    SciTech Connect

    Jura, M.; Klein, B.; Xu, S.; Young, E. D. E-mail: kleinb@astro.ucla.edu E-mail: eyoung@ess.ucla.edu

    2014-08-20

    Relative to calcium, both strontium and barium are markedly enriched in Earth's continental crust compared to the basaltic crusts of other differentiated rocky bodies within the solar system. Here, we both re-examine available archived Keck spectra to place upper bounds on n(Ba)/n(Ca) and revisit published results for n(Sr)/n(Ca) in two white dwarfs that have accreted rocky planetesimals. We find that at most only a small fraction of the pollution is from crustal material that has experienced the distinctive elemental enhancements induced by Earth-analog plate tectonics. In view of the intense theoretical interest in the physical structure of extrasolar rocky planets, this search should be extended to additional targets.

  7. Tectonic-volcanic discontinuity at latitude 27° south Andean Range, associated with Nazca Plate Subduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gonzalez-Ferran, O.; Baker, P. E.; Rex, D. C.

    1985-03-01

    The area investigated lies between latitude 26°40' and 27°15' south and longitude 69°30' and 68°30' west in the Andean Range. A combination of K-Ar dating, petrology, geochemistry and geophysical data has led to the recognition of an important change in the tectonic control of volcanic activity during the early Pliocene. Five volcanic cycles are recognized and grouped into two units according to tectonic control. The first unit comprises the following cycles; (a) La Coipa-Maricunga 23.0-15.7 Ma; (b) Pastillito 13.9-12.9 Ma; and (c) Wheelwright 8.84-6.14 Ma; representing a progression of active belts, striking N5°E, towards the east. The second group is represented by Pen¯as Biancas 4.90-2.64 Ma and Ojos del Salado 1.84-Recent (active) having a N65°E strike, extending over a distance of some 250 km in the high Andes. The volcanic rocks of both groups belong to the calc-alkali series ranging from andesitic basalt to andesite, dacite and rhyolite, though with significant variations in total alkali content. Changes in the orientation of the volcanic belt may be related to changes in the spreading rate of the Nazca Plate or to changes in the angle of subduction on either side of latitude 27°S i.e. along the latitude of the Easter Hot Line.

  8. Break-up of Gondwana and opening of the South Atlantic: Review of existing plate tectonic models

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ghidella, M.E.; Lawver, L.A.; Gahagan, L.M.

    2007-01-01

    each model. We also plot reconstructions at four selected epochs for all models using the same projection and scale to facilitate comparison. The diverse simplifying assumptions that need to be made in every case regarding plate fragmentation to account for the numerous syn-rift basins and periods of stretching are strong indicators that rigid plate tectonics is too simple a model for the present problem.

  9. Subduction on Europa: Evidence for plate tectonics on an icy world (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kattenhorn, S. A.; Prockter, L. M.

    2013-12-01

    Europa is the primary target in NASA's future outer solar system exploration strategy. A tidally heated global ocean beneath its ice shell is important for astrobiological considerations; however, habitability requires a source of chemical nutrients. Europa's radiolytically processed surface is a potential source, but a means of delivery of compounds to the ocean is required. Past studies of Europa's surface have been unable to explain an abundance of extensional features (e.g., dilational bands) yet scant evidence of contraction. Moreover, the crater-based surface age (40-90 Myr) indicates one of the solar system's youngest surfaces, implying Europa's surface (3.09 x 107 km2) may have been recycled in this time frame (i.e., 0.3-0.8 km2 per year). We address this enigma by presenting evidence for subduction, and hence plate tectonics, on Europa. We reconstruct geologic features in a 106,000 km2 candidate region to show that the current surface configuration involved numerous translations and rotations of rigid plates. The reconstruction reveals ~100 km of missing surface that seemingly vanished along a 20-km-wide, band-like zone with unusual color characteristics. Mismatching geological features across this zone suggest an ~80-km-wide region may have subducted along a ≥300-km-long plate boundary. The subduction zone is arcuate, has no topographic expression at image resolutions, and is partially bounded by transform faults. The overriding plate has numerous strike-slip faults consistent with strain partitioning related to oblique convergence. The surface of the overriding plate is also pervasively dotted with isolated patches of disrupted terrain, which we interpret as erupted cryolava, implying a significant subsurface thermal perturbation related to the potential subduction. If a subduction model for Europa is accurate, buoyancy constraints and a lack of contractional topography imply that the subducting slab does not enter the ocean directly. We thus interpret

  10. Jules Verne Voyager, Jr: An Interactive Map Tool for Teaching Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamburger, M. W.; Meertens, C. M.

    2010-12-01

    We present an interactive, web-based map utility that can make new geological and geophysical results accessible to a large number and variety of users. The tool provides a user-friendly interface that allows users to access a variety of maps, satellite images, and geophysical data at a range of spatial scales. The map tool, dubbed 'Jules Verne Voyager, Jr.', allows users to interactively create maps of a variety of study areas around the world. The utility was developed in collaboration with the UNAVCO Consortium for study of global-scale tectonic processes. Users can choose from a variety of base maps (including "Face of the Earth" and "Earth at Night" satellite imagery mosaics, global topography, geoid, sea-floor age, strain rate and seismic hazard maps, and others), add a number of geographic and geophysical overlays (coastlines, political boundaries, rivers and lakes, earthquake and volcano locations, stress axes, etc.), and then superimpose both observed and model velocity vectors representing a compilation of 2933 GPS geodetic measurements from around the world. A remarkable characteristic of the geodetic compilation is that users can select from some 21 plates' frames of reference, allowing a visual representation of both 'absolute' plate motion (in a no-net rotation reference frame) and relative motion along all of the world's plate boundaries. The tool allows users to zoom among at least three map scales. The map tool can be viewed at http://jules.unavco.org/VoyagerJr/Earth. A more detailed version of the map utility, developed in conjunction with the EarthScope initiative, focuses on North America geodynamics, and provides more detailed geophysical and geographic information for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The ‘EarthScope Voyager’ can be accessed at http://jules.unavco.org/VoyagerJr/EarthScope. Because the system uses pre-constructed gif images and overlays, the system can rapidly create and display maps to a large number of users