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. 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

  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. Intermittent plate tectonics?

    PubMed

    Silver, Paul G; Behn, Mark D

    2008-01-01

    Although it is commonly assumed that subduction has operated continuously on Earth without interruption, subduction zones are routinely terminated by ocean closure and supercontinent assembly. Under certain circumstances, this could lead to a dramatic loss of subduction, globally. Closure of a Pacific-type basin, for example, would eliminate most subduction, unless this loss were compensated for by comparable subduction initiation elsewhere. Given the evidence for Pacific-type closure in Earth's past, the absence of a direct mechanism for termination/initiation compensation, and recent data supporting a minimum in subduction flux in the Mesoproterozoic, we hypothesize that dramatic reductions or temporary cessations of subduction have occurred in Earth's history. Such deviations in the continuity of plate tectonics have important consequences for Earth's thermal and continental evolution. PMID:18174440

  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 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.

  14. 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)

  15. MACMA: a Virtual Lab for Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-12-01

    MACMA (Multi-Agent Convective MAntle) is a tool developed to simulate evolutive plate tectonics and mantle convection in a 2-D cylindrical geometry (Combes et al., 2012). The model relies mainly on a force balance to compute the velocity of each plate, and on empirical rules to determine how plate boundaries move and evolve. It includes 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. The MACMA interface was designed to be user-friendly and a simple use of the simulator can be achieved without any prerequisite knowledge in fluid dynamics, mantle rheology, nor in numerical methods. As a preliminary study, the simulator was used by a few students from bachelor's degree to master's degree levels. An initial configuration for plate tectonics has to be created before starting a simulation: the number and types of plate boundaries (ridge, subduction, passive margins) has to be defined and seafloor ages must be given. A simple but interesting exercise consists in letting students build such an initial configuration: they must analyze a map of tectonic plates, choose a 2-D section and examine carefully a map of seafloor ages. Students mentioned that the exercise made them realize that the 3-D spherical structure of plate tectonics does not translate directly in a simple 2-D section, as opposed to what is usually shown in books. Physical parameters: e.g. mantle viscosity, number of layers to consider in the mantle (upper and lower mantle, possible asthenosphere), initial time and mantle temperature, have to be chosen, and students can use this virtual lab to see how different scenarios emerge when parameters are varied. Very importantly, the direct visualization of the mobility of plate 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.

  16. 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 otherwise have been returned to the mantle heat budget. This worsened the heat-budget problem, finally precipitating a collapse of mantle convection and the ensuing Huronian global glaciations at 2.35 Ga. The unparalleled deposition of banded iron-formation (BIF) during the early part of this hiatus supports this picture. Throughout the Archaean, Fe2+ had accumulated in the deep ocean, stabilized by acidic input from MORs, despite the efforts of oxygenic life (OL) in shallow water. Removal of this input enabled OL to "win its battle", the BIF was deposited and the ocean largely oxygenated. ?13C rose as OL really flowered at 2.22 Ga, when MORs resumed, patchily at first, and sea-level rose and flooded planated cratons. [1] Osmaston, M.F. (Goldschmidt 2002) GCA 66 (15A) A571.

  17. 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.

  18. Comment on "Intermittent plate tectonics?".

    PubMed

    Korenaga, Jun

    2008-06-01

    Silver and Behn (Reports, 4 January 2008, p. 85) proposed that intermittent plate tectonics may resolve a long-standing paradox in Earth's thermal evolution. However, their analysis misses one important term, which subsequently brings their main conclusion into question. In addition, the Phanerozoic eustasy record indicates that the claimed effect of intermittency is probably weak. PMID:18535229

  19. 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 mlanges. 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.

  20. 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)

  1. 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

  2. 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…

  3. 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 So 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 So Francisco Craton, extensional and compressional events of Grenvillian-type age are well registered by the structural features exhibited by the sedimentary rocks of the Espinhao 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-So 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 intrusions, and some alkalic complexes of Mesoproterozoic age, whose origin could be attributed, at least partially, to deeper sources of heat. This is not reported for the So Francisco Craton, and also for its African counterpart, the Congo Craton. Moreover, the Grenvillian-type age intra-plate features over South America demonstrate that while many cratonic fragments were colliding to build Rodinia, rifting was already occurring in parts of the Amazonian and the Congo-So Francisco Cratons.

  4. 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.

  5. Subduction Drive of Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamilton, W. B.

    2003-12-01

    Don Anderson emphasizes that plate tectonics is self-organizing and is driven by subduction, which rights the density inversion generated as oceanic lithosphere forms by cooling of asthenosphere from the top. The following synthesis owes much to many discussions with him. Hinge rollback is the key to kinematics, and, like the rest of actual plate behavior, is incompatible with bottom-up convection drive. Subduction hinges (which are under, not in front of, thin leading parts of arcs and overriding plates) roll back into subducting plates. The Pacific shrinks because bounding hinges roll back into it. Colliding arcs, increasing arc curvatures, back-arc spreading, and advance of small arcs into large plates also require rollback. Forearcs of overriding plates commonly bear basins which preclude shortening of thin plate fronts throughout periods recorded by basin strata (100 Ma for Cretaceous and Paleogene California). This requires subequal rates of advance and rollback, and control of both by subduction. Convergence rate is equal to rates of rollback and advance in many systems but is greater in others. Plate-related circulation probably is closed above 650 km. Despite the popularity of concepts of plumes from, and subduction into, lower mantle, there is no convincing evidence for, and much evidence against, penetration of the 650 in either direction. That barrier not only has a crossing-inhibiting negative Clapeyron slope but also is a compositional boundary between fractionated (not "primitive"), sluggish lower mantle and fertile, mobile upper mantle. Slabs sink more steeply than they dip. Slabs older than about 60 Ma when their subduction began sink to, and lie down on and depress, the 650-km discontinuity, and are overpassed, whereas younger slabs become neutrally buoyant in mid-upper mantle, into which they are mixed as they too are overpassed. Broadside-sinking old slabs push all upper mantle, from base of oceanic lithosphere down to the 650, back under shrinking oceans, forcing rapid Pacific spreading. Slabs suck forward overriding arcs and continental lithosphere, plus most subjacent mantle above the transition zone. Changes in sizes of oceans result primarily from transfer of oceanic lithosphere, so backarcs and expanding oceans spread only slowly. Lithosphere parked in, or displaced from, the transition zone, or mixed into mid-upper mantle, is ultimately recycled, and regional variations in age of that submerged lithosphere may account for some regional contrasts in MORB. Plate motions make no kinematic sense in either the "hotspot" reference frame (HS; the notion of fixed plumes is easily disproved) or the no-net-rotation frame (NNR) In both, for example, many hinges roll forward, impossible with gravity drive. Subduction-drive predictions are fulfilled, and paleomagnetic data are satisfied (as they are not in HS and NNR), in the alternative framework of propulsionless Antarctica fixed relative to sluggish lower mantle. Passive ridges migrate away from Antarctica on all sides, and migration of these and other ridges permits tapping fresh asthenosphere. (HS and NNR tend to fix ridges). Ridge migration and spreading rates accord with subduction drive. All trenches roll back when allowance is made for back-arc spreading and intracontinental deformation. Africa rotates slowly toward subduction systems in the NE, instead of moving rapidly E as in HS and NNR. Stable NW Eurasia is nearly stationary, instead of also moving rapidly, and S and E Eurasian deformation relates to subduction and rollback. The Americas move Pacificward at almost the full spreading rates of passive ridges behind them. Lithosphere has a slow net westward drift. Reference: W.B. Hamilton, An alternative Earth, GSA Today, in press.

  6. 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 reorganization events in the late Archean and Proterozoic: long plates, and therefore a low number of plate boundaries, naturally yield a long timespan between collisions of plate boundaries, and long lifespans for tectonic entities.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. A planetary perspective on Earth evolution: Lid Tectonics before Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Piper, John D. A.

    2013-03-01

    Plate Tectonics requires a specific range of thermal, fluid and compositional conditions before it will operate to mobilise planetary lithospheres. The response to interior heat dispersion ranges from mobile lids in constant motion able to generate zones of subduction and spreading (Plate Tectonics), through styles of Lid Tectonics expressed by stagnant lids punctured by volcanism, to lids alternating between static and mobile. The palaeomagnetic record through Earth history provides a test for tectonic style because a mobile Earth of multiple continents is recorded by diverse apparent polar wander paths, whilst Lid Tectonics is recorded by conformity to a single position. The former is difficult to isolate without extreme selection whereas the latter is a demanding requirement and easily recognised. In the event, the Precambrian palaeomagnetic database closely conforms to this latter property over very long periods of time (~ 2.7-2.2 Ga, 1.5-1.3 Ga and 0.75-0.6 Ga); intervening intervals are characterised by focussed loops compatible with episodes of true polar wander stimulated by disturbances to the planetary figure. Because of this singular property, the Precambrian palaeomagnetic record is highly effective in showing that a dominant Lid Tectonics operated throughout most of Earth history. A continental lid comprising at least 60% of the present continental area and volume had achieved quasi-integrity by 2.7 Ga. Reconfiguration of mantle and continental lid at ~ 2.2 Ga correlates with isotopic signatures and the Great Oxygenation Event and is the closest analogy in Earth history to the resurfacing of Venus. Change from Lid Tectonics to Plate Tectonics is transitional and the geological record identifies incipient development of Plate Tectonics on an orogenic scale especially after 1.1 Ga, but only following break-up of the continental lid (Palaeopangaea) in Ediacaran times beginning at ~ 0.6 Ga has it become comprehensive in the style evident during the Phanerozoic Eon (< 0.54 Ga).

  10. On the Origin of Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, D.

    2014-12-01

    The emergence of plate tectonics was Earth's defining moment. How and when platetectonics started is shrouded in mystery because of the paucity of observations in theArchean as well the challenge of understanding how plates are generated. The damage theoryof lithospheric weakening by grain-reduction provides a physical framework for plategeneration. This model builds on grain-scale processes to elucidate planetary-scaletectonics, and is consistent with lab and field observations of polycrystalline rocks andlithospheric shear zones. The grain-damage model accounts for the evolution of damage andhealing (by grain growth) at various planetary conditions, hence predicts plate boundaryformation and longevity, and how they depend on surface environment. For example, the onset of prototectonics is predicted to require clement conditions tokeep healing from erasing weak zones; conversely, cool conditions possibly requiredtectonics to draw down primordial CO2. Thus whether tectonics preceded a cool climate (andwater) or vice versa is immaterial as they likely needed each other or neither wouldexist. Sparse evidence that prototectonics co-initiated with liquid water hints at thelink between tectonics, water and surface conditions. The establishment of wide-spread plate tectonics started between >4Ga and 2.7Ga, and mayhave taken over a billion years to develop. Under Earth-like conditions, combininggrain-damage with intermittent Archean protosubduction produces persistent weak zones thataccumulate to yield well developed plates within 1Gyrs. In contrast, Venus' hottersurface conditions promotes healing and prohibits weak zone accumulation, which explainswhy plate tectonics failed to spread on our sister planet. Damage and weak-zone inheritance may also influence plate evolution and reorganization inthe modern era. Changes in plate direction, such as reflected in the Emperor-Hawaiianbend, leave weak zones misaligned with plate motion, causing oblique plate boundaries thatpersist for the age of the plate. Grain-damage within a cold subducting slab may alsocause its very rapid detachment, and the abrupt loss of the slab-pull force could accountfor precipitous changes in plate motion, such as for the Pacific plate at both 47Ma and6Ma.

  11. Plate Tectonics, Geographical Information System, paleogeography

    Energy Science and Technology Software Center (ESTSC)

    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.

  12. LOWLID FORMATION AND PLATE TECTONICS ON EXOPLANETS

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenkovic, V.; Noack, L.; Breuer, D.

    2009-12-01

    The last years of astronomical observation have opened the doors to a universe filled with extrasolar planets. Detection techniques still only offer the possibility to detect mainly Super-Earths above five Earth masses. But detection techniques do steadily improve and are offering the possibility to detect even smaller planets. The observations show that planets seem to exist in many possible sizes just as the planets and moons of our own solar system do. It is only a natural question to ask if planetary mass has an influence on some key habitability factors such as on plate tectonics, allowing us to test which exoplanets might be more likely habitable than others, and allowing us to understand if plate tectonics on Earth is a stable or a critical, instable process that could easily be perturbed. Here we present results derived from 1D parameterized thermal evolution and 2D/3D computer models, showing how planetary mass influences the propensity of plate tectonics for planets with masses ranging from 0.1 to 10 Earth masses. Lately [2, 3] studied the effect of planetary mass on the ability to break plates and hence initiate plate tectonics - but both derived results contradictory to the other. We think that one of the reasons why both studies [2, 3] are not acceptable in their current form is partly due to an oversimplification. Both treated viscosity only temperature-dependent but neglected the effect pressure has on enlarging the viscosity in the deep mantle. More massive planets have therefore a stronger pressure-viscosity-coupling making convection at high pressures sluggish or even impossible. For planets larger than two Earth masses we observe that a conductive lid (termed low-lid) forms above the core-mantle boundary and thus reduces the effective convective part of the mantle when including a pressure-dependent term into the viscosity laws as shown in [1]. Moreover [2, 3] use time independent steady state models neglecting the fact that plate tectonics is a dynamic process changing with time. By combining 1D thermal time evolution models and 2D/3D steady state models we are able to conclude that planetary mass does influence the propensity of plate tectonics on planets. The pressure dependence changes the scaling laws for parameterized models and influences the scaling of stresses associated with breaking of plates and thus the initiation of plate tectonics. The results indicate that for planets with masses larger than Earth lithospheric plates are either becoming thicker or remain similar in thickness and yield stresses to break the plates increase - making it harder to assume that plate tectonics is more likely on Super-Earths. Moreover, convective stresses decrease more than yield stresses do for planets smaller than Earth, leading to the fact that planets with masses close to one Earth mass seem to have better chances to exhibit plate tectonics than larger or smaller planets with similar composition and structure. References [1] Noack, L. Stamenkovic, V., and Breuer, D. (2009) ESLAB 09, P1.04. [2] Valencia, D., OConnell, R.J., and Sasselov, D.D. (2007) Astroph. J., 670, 45-48. [3] ONeill, C. and Lenardic, A. (2007) GRL, 34, L19204

  13. 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)

  14. 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 or felsic terrain and an oceanic or mafic terrain as well as internal crustal convection. Small-scale convection with plume shaped cold downwellings also in the upper mantle is of increased importance compared to the large-scale subduction cycle observed for present temperature conditions. It is also observed that lithospheric downwellings may initiate subduction by pulling at and breaking the plate. References: Abbott, D., Drury, R., Smith, W.H.F., 1994. Flat to steep transition in subduction style. Geology 22, 937-940. Brown, M., 2006. Duality of thermal regimes is the distinctive characteristic of plate tectonics since the neoarchean. Geology 34, 961-964. Brun, J.P., 2002. Deformation of the continental lithosphere: Insights from brittle-ductile models. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 200, 355-370.

  15. 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 processes in the cold thermal boundary layer that lies under the stagnant lid. Different boundary conditions have been investigated such as the surface temperature, the core temperature, the viscosity of the mantle, and the amount of internal heating. A total of 18 numerical simulations have been carried out from which scaling laws describing the shear stresses affecting the stagnant lid have been have been deduced. Their application to Earth-like exoplanets will be discussed. Different viscous laws have also been investigated. Preliminary results suggest that non-Newtonian deformation favors the transition from stagnant lid to mobile lid. Finally, application to large icy moons and icy giants is being investigated. Part of this work has been performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract to NASA. Government sponsorship acknowledged.

  16. Reducing Plate Tectonic Misconceptions with Lecture Tutorials

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kortz, K. M.; Smay, J. M.; Mattera, A. V.; Clark, S. K.

    2009-12-01

    In order to address student difficulties with and common misconceptions about plate tectonics, we created five Lecture Tutorials suitable for introductory geoscience courses. Lecture Tutorials are 10-15 minute worksheets that students complete in class in small groups to make learning more student-centered. Students build their knowledge with questions that progressively become more difficult, requiring them think about their misconceptions. Our research indicates that the Lecture Tutorials successfully decrease student misconceptions. For example, few introductory students identify the mantle wedge as the location of melting at subduction zones. Instead, students frequently think melting occurs at the trench, in magma chambers within volcanoes, or where images commonly show the subducting slab disappearing. One of the Lecture Tutorials helps the students determine why melting occurs and therefore identify the correct locations of melting at convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries, and hotspots. This Lecture Tutorial includes a hypothetical debate with statements expressing the misconceptions and one expressing the correct scientific idea of where melting occurs. Students are asked to explain why they agree with one of the statements, so they must directly think about any misconceptions they may have. Additional difficulties addressed by the Lecture Tutorials include identification of the direction of plate movement at ocean ridges and the locations and formation of basic plate tectonic features, such as trenches, volcanoes, ocean ridges, and plate boundaries. After instruction, students completed questionnaires that probed their understanding of plate tectonics, and students who completed the Lecture Tutorials performed significantly better on relevant questions. For example, when asked to circle the locations on a diagram where melting occurred, students who completed the Lecture Tutorials correctly circled the mantle wedge more often than other students (33% vs. 8%). The percentage of students who drew incorrect arrows indicating converging plates at ocean ridges was smaller for students who completed the Lecture Tutorials (9%) than for those who did not (21%). Because the Lecture Tutorials frequently asked students to identify, explain, and draw basic features relevant to plate tectonics, we hypothesized that students who completed the Lecture Tutorials would correctly identify more of these features, and this is what we observed. Students who completed the Lecture Tutorials identified 6.3 features on average, compared to 2.8 for those students who did not complete the Lecture Tutorials. The Lecture Tutorial students correctly labeled 82% of the identified features, compared to 71% for other students. The plate tectonic Lecture Tutorials along with others on additional introductory geoscience topics are available as a workbook called Lecture Tutorials for Introductory Geoscience published by W. H. Freeman.

  17. 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.

  18. 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 factors influencing plate speeds over the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, our temporal analysis reveals simple principles that can guide the construction and evaluation of absolute plate motion models for times before the Cretaceous in the absence of hotspot tracks and seafloor spreading histories. Based on the post-Pangea plate motions, one principle that can be applied to pre-Pangea times is that plates with less than ∼ 50% continental area can reach RMS velocities of ∼ 20 cm /yr, while plates with more than 50% continental fraction do not exceed RMS velocities of ∼ 10 cm /yr. Similarly, plates with large portions of continental or cratonic area with RMS velocities exceeding ∼ 15 cm /yr for more than ∼ 10 Myr should be considered as potential artefacts requiring further justification of plate driving forces in such scenarios.

  19. 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 own collected data and observations. The main goals are for students o To see the relationship between data and the development of a scientific theory o To understand the elements of scientific discourse o To learn how to derive conclusions from interpretations and observations o To back interpretations with observations o To be able to write a scientific argument o To understand the Theory of Plate Tectonics, and o To gain a better understanding about how science works The results of several surveys will be presented that confirm that most of the expected outcomes continue to be met.

  20. 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-damage scales differently than Newtonian convection; whereas the Nusselt number, Nu, typically scales with the Rayleigh number, Ra, to the 1/3 power, for grain-damage this exponent is larger because increasing Ra also enhances damage. In addition, Nu and plate velocity are also functions of the damage to healing ratio, (D/H); increasing D/H increases Nu (or plate speed) because more damage leads to more vigorous convection. In Chapter 4, I demonstrate that subduction can be sustained on the early Earth, that the style of subduction at this time was different than modern day plate tectonics, and that such subduction (or proto-subduction) can initiate rapidly after magma ocean solidification. The scaling laws from Chapter 3 show that, though either higher interior mantle temperatures or higher surface temperatures lead to slower plates, proto-subduction, with plate speeds of at least 1.5 cm/yr, can still be maintained in the Hadean, even if the primordial atmosphere was CO2 rich. Furthermore, when the interior mantle temperature is high (e.g. above ? 2000 K), the mode of subduction switches to a "sluggish subduction" style, where downwellings are more drip-like than slab-like and plate boundaries are more diffuse. Numerical models of post-magma ocean mantle convection, and a scaling analysis based on the results of these models, demonstrate that proto-plate tectonics likely initiates within 100 Myrs of magma ocean solidification. Combined with the conclusion that proto-subduction could be maintained on the early Earth, my results are consistent with evidence for Hadean subduction from zircon data, and indicate that the subduction inferred from zircons may have been distinct from modern day plate tectonics. After the initiation of proto-subduction, which occurs as a rapid overturn of the whole lithosphere, mobile lid convection takes place as non-plate tectonic "sluggish subduction" As both the mantle interior and climate cool, modern style plate tectonics develops. The rapid, initial subduction event may help hasten the onset of

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 Pacific Congress on Computational Mechanics, July 2010, iopscience.iop.org/1757-899X/10/1/012012. [4] G. Morra, P. Chatelain, P. Tackley and P. Koumoutzakos, 2007, Large scale three-dimensional boundary element simulation of subduction, in Proceeding International Conference on Computational Science - Part III, LNCS 4489, pp. 1122-1129. Interaction between two subducting slabs.

  4. Metamorphism, Plate Tectonics, and the Supercontinent Cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brown, Michael

    Granulite facies ultrahigh temperature metamorphism (G-UHTM) is documented in the rock record predominantly from Neoarchean to Cambrian; G-UHTM facies series rocks may be inferred at depth in younger, particularly Cenozoic orogenic systems. The first occurrence of G-UHTM in the rock record signifies a change in geodynamics that generated transient sites of very high heat flow. Many G-UHTM belts may have developed in settings analogous to modern continental backarcs. On a warmer Earth, the cyclic formation of supercontinents and their breakup, particularly by extroversion, which involved destruction of ocean basins floored by thinner lithosphere, may have generated hotter continental backarcs than those associated with the modern Pacific rim. Medium-temperature eclogite, high-pressure granulite metamorphism (E-HPGM), is also first recognized in the Neoarchean rock record and occurs at intervals throughout the Proterozoic and Paleozoic rock record. E-HPGM belts are complementary to G-UHTM belts and are generally inferred to record subduction-to-collision orogenesis. Blueschists become evident in the Neoproterozoic rock record; they record the low thermal gradients associated with modern subduction. Lawsonite blueschists and eclogites (high-pressure metamorphism, HPM) and ultrahigh pressure metamorphism (UHPM) characterized by coesite (lawsonite) or diamond are predominantly Phanerozoic phenomena. HPM-UHPM registers the low thermal gradients and deep subduction of continental crust during the early stage of the collision process in Phanerozoic subduction-to-collision orogens. Although perhaps counterintuitive, many HPM-UHPM belts appear to have developed by closure of small ocean basins in the process of accretion of a continental terrane during a period of supercontinent introversion (Wilson cycle ocean basin opening and closing). A duality of metamorphic beltsreflecting a duality of thermal regimesappears in the record only since the Neoarchean Era. A duality of thermal regimes is the hallmark of modern plate tectonics and the duality of metamorphic belts is the characteristic imprint of plate tectonics in the rock record. The occurrence of both G-UHTM and E-HPGM belts since the Neoarchean manifests the onset of a 'Proterozoic plate tectonics regime', although the style of tectonics likely involved differences. The 'Proterozoic plate tectonics regime' evolved during a Neoproterozoic transition to the 'modern plate tectonics regime' characterized by colder subduction and subduction of continental crust deep into the mantle and its (partial) return from depths of up to 300 km, as chronicled by the appearance of HPM-UHPM in the rock record. The age distribution of metamorphic belts that record extreme conditions of metamorphism is not uniform, and metamorphism occurs in periods that correspond to amalgamation of continental lithosphere into supercratons (e.g. Superia/Sclavia) or supercontinents (e.g. Nuna (Columbia), Rodinia, Gondwana, and Pangea).

  5. 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.

  6. Evolution of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meissner, R.

    1983-04-01

    The evidence for plate-tectonic (PT) evolution analogous to that on earth is presented for the moon, Mercury, Mars, and Venus. The alpha, beta, and buckling phases of earth PT and their dependence on plate formation and convection processes are characterized. PT is considered a necessary phase in the cooling of terrestrial planets. Hypsographic curves, smoothed topography and crustal-depth profiles, and data on crustal thickness, lithospheric thickness, center-of-mass/center-of-figure offset, and ratio of volcanic plains to highland areas, are given for each of the planets; the Mercury data are found to be insufficient for accurate PF modeling. It is shown that type-beta PT has specific boundary conditions now satisfied only on earth, while type-alpha PT acted on the earth at 3.8-1.2 GY and probably on the moon at 4.4-4.0 GY, on Mars with increased intensity for a longer period, and on Venus (where the present abundance of PT features and the surface thermal-boundary conditions may resemble those of the Archean earth) only since about 2 GY. The estimated evolution of tectonic styles and lithospheric thickness in time is plotted, and it is suggested that the beta phase may generally be of short duration.

  7. 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.

  8. Learning Plate Tectonics Using a Pre-Analogy Step

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glesener, G. B.; Sandoval, W. A.

    2011-12-01

    Previous research has shown that children tend to demonstrate lower performance on analogical reasoning tasks at a causal relations level compared to most adults (Gentner & Toupin, 1986). This tendency is an obstacle that geoscience educators must overcome because of the high frequency of analogies used in geoscience pedagogy. In particular, analog models are used to convey complex systems of non-everyday/non-observable events found in nature, such as plate tectonics. Key factors in successful analogical reasoning that have been suggested by researchers include knowledge of the causal relations in the base analog (Brown & Kane, 1988; Gentner, 1988; Gentner & Toupin, 1986), and development of learning strategies and metaconceptual competence(Brown & Kane, 1988). External factors, such as guiding cues and hints have been useful cognitive supports that help students reason through analogical problems (Gick & Holyoak, 1980). Cognitive supports have been seen by researchers to decrease processing demands on retrieval and working memory (Richland, Zur, & Holyoak, 2007). We observed third and fourth graders learning about plate tectonics beginning with a pre-analogy step-a cognitive support activity a student can do before working with an analogy to understand the target. This activity was designed to aid students in developing their understanding of object attributes and relations within an analog model so that more focus can be placed on mapping the corresponding higher-order relations between the base and target. Students learned targeted concepts of plate tectonics, as measured by pre to post gains on items adapted from the Geosciences Concept Inventory. Analyses of classroom interaction showed that students used the object attributes and higher-order relations highlighted in the pre-analogy activity as resources to reason about plate boundaries and plate movement during earthquakes.

  9. The spots and stains of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oliver, Jack

    1992-01-01

    This paper describes a synthesis characterized by broad scope, substantial support, and some speculation. The framework for the synthesis is the speculative concept that the process of convergence and collision of large landmasses disrupts the fluid regime of the collision zone and adjoining areas. The disturbed fluids leave a record of their disruption and transport in great spots and stains. Some of these spots and stains persist in the modern geologic record where they are known as mineral deposits, mineral occurrences, oil fields, gas fields, tar sands, diagenesis, authigenesis, metamorphism, dolomitization, fluid inclusions, and paleoremagnetization. Various observed characteristics of these phenomena provide supporting evidence of such diversity and consistency that the concept seems firmly rooted in observation. Nevertheless, many opportunities for further testing remain. If the synthesis is more or less correct, then a major link between plate tectonics, or global-scale geodynamics, and a wide variety of terrestrial geological observations of lesser scale is in hand.

  10. 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

  11. Is Plate Tectonics Speeding up with Time?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Condie, K. C.; Korenaga, J.; Pisarevsky, S. A.

    2014-12-01

    Cooling of the mantle is often assumed to result in a decrease in average global plate speeds with time. However, deformation in collisional orogens indicates the frequency of craton collisions increases from about 5/100 Myr 2.5 Ga to 10/100 Myr 200 Ma. Likewise, angular plate velocities weighted by craton area increase from an average of 25 deg/100Myr at 2 Ga to about 50 deg/100 Myr in the last 200 Myr. The number of cratons decreases rapidly from > 20 to ? 15 between 1.9 and 1.75 Ga as numerous Archean blocks were sutured together. Orogens and passive margins show the same two cycles of ocean basin closing: an early cycle from 2.5-1.9 Ga and a later cycle, which corresponds to the supercontinent cycle ? 1.9 Ga. Also recorded in the geologic record during the last 200 Myr is a decrease in the duration of passive continental margins from 400 Myr at 1.2 Ga to < 100 Myr during the last 200 Myr. And finally, assuming Gondwana and Pangea represent stages in the growth of a single supercontinent, the period of the supercontinent cycle has dropped from about 1000 Myr at 1.5 Ga to < 500 Myr in the last 500 Myr. All of these observations are consistent with an increase in average plate speeds with time, which is consistent with the geodynamic model of Korenaga (2006) suggesting that plate tectonics is speeding up with time. This could be due to a decrease in the magnitude of lithosphere dehydration stiffening as ambient mantle temperature falls with time. Alternatively or in addition, gradual hydration of the mantle by subduction may decrease mantle viscosity and increase convection rates.

  12. 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

  13. The integration of palaeogeography and tectonics in refining plate tectonic models: an example from SE Asia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Masterton, S. M.; Markwick, P.; Bailiff, R.; Campanile, D.; Edgecombe, E.; Eue, D.; Galsworthy, A.; Wilson, K.

    2012-04-01

    Our understanding of lithospheric evolution and global plate motions throughout the Earth's history is based largely upon detailed knowledge of plate boundary structures, inferences about tectonic regimes, ocean isochrons and palaeomagnetic data. Most currently available plate models are either regionally restricted or do not consider palaeogeographies in their construction. Here, we present an integrated methodology in which derived hypotheses have been further refined using global and regional palaeogeographic, palaeotopological and palaeobathymetric maps. Iteration between our self-consistent and structurally constrained global plate model and palaeogeographic interpretations which are built on these reconstructions, allows for greater testing and refinement of results. Our initial structural and tectonic interpretations are based largely on analysis of our extensive global database of gravity and magnetic potential field data, and are further constrained by seismic, SRTM and Landsat data. This has been used as the basis for detailed interpretations that have allowed us to compile a new global map and database of structures, crustal types, plate boundaries and basin definitions. Our structural database is used in the identification of major tectonic terranes and their relative motions, from which we have developed our global plate model. It is subject to an ongoing process of regional evaluation and revisions in an effort to incorporate and reflect new tectonic and geologic interpretations. A major element of this programme is the extension of our existing plate model (GETECH Global Plate Model V1) back to the Neoproterozic. Our plate model forms the critical framework upon which palaeogeographic and palaeotopographic reconstructions have been made for every time stage in the Cretaceous and Cenozoic. Generating palaeogeographies involves integration of a variety of data, such as regional geology, palaeoclimate analyses, lithology, sea-level estimates, thermo-mechanical events and regional tectonics. These data are interpreted to constrain depositional systems and tectonophysiographic terranes. Palaeotopography and palaeobathymetry are derived from these tectonophysiographic terranes and depositional systems, and are further constrained using geological relationships, thermochronometric data, palaeoaltimetry indicators and modern analogues. Throughout this process, our plate model is iteratively tested against our palaeogeographies and their environmental consequences. Both the plate model and the palaeogeographies are refined until we have obtained a consistent and scientifically robust result. In this presentation we show an example from Southeast Asia, where the plate model complexity and wide variation in hypotheses has huge implications for the palaeogeographic interpretation, which can then be tested using geological observations from well and seismic data. For example, the Khorat Plateau Basin, Northeastern Thailand, comprises a succession of fluvial clastics during the Cretaceous, which include the evaporites of the Maha Sarakham Formation. These have been variously interpreted as indicative of saline lake or marine incursion depositional environments. We show how the feasibility of these different hypotheses is dependent on the regional palaeogeography (whether a marine link is possible), which in turn depends on the underlying plate model. We show two models with widely different environmental consequences. A more robust model that takes into account all these consequences, as well as data, can be defined by iterating through the consequences of the plate model and geological observations.

  14. 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 sedimentation rate is necessary to bury organic matter and to restrict the mineralization. Consequences of crustal extension are also studied by using an experimental sand box model. The creation of faults is related to the subsidence of the margin. This subsidence allows the crossing of the oil window, leading to pyrolysis of organic matter and its transformation into oil. Afterwards, students compare the structures obtained after extension in their sand box to the actual organization of the Ghawar oil accumulation (seismic line). They can see that faults created by extension forces have not been preserved and can assume that compression forces have caused formation of the traps. An animation of paleo-location of continents during the upper Jurassic helps them to think that compression forces are linked to the closure of the Tethys Sea. A model using gravel and clay is used to show the principle of oil trapping. This way, students understand how the tectonic plate models explain the actual location of oil deposits and then how it can be used to look for new deposits.

  15. The Distribution of Plate Tectonics Planets in the Galaxy

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stamenkovic, V.

    2014-04-01

    Whether a rocky planet has plate tectonics or not is crucial for comprehending planetary climate and possibly habitability. The recent findings that super-Earths are common in our Galaxy and the push to find targets for future spectroscopic observations are highly motivating to determine which rocky planets support volcanism and also plate tectonics. I present how different model assumptions (for 1D, 2D, 3D models), interior heat, initial conditions, and non-Earth-like planetary properties affect plate tectonics and furthermore discover some fundamental problems within exo-geophysics, which are too often neglected. I specifically find that: 1. Simple scaling laws are, without great modifications, not usable to study massive rocky planets. Moreover, thermal evolution models are necessary. 2. The question whether there is plate tectonics on super-Earths or not is tightly linked to how plate tectonics reacts to interior heat. Plate tectonics seems to be less likely with increasing interior heat and for massive planets with an Earth-like structure and composition. 3. Previous models disagree whether there is plate tectonics on super-Earths or not because of different model assumptions and the lack of result robustness. 4. The initial thermal conditions, the amount of iron and radiogenic heat sources in the mantle, the C/O ratio, the distribution of water between bulk mantle and surface, the planet's core size, and whether a planet is differentiated or not impact plate tectonics as much as planetary mass does. The presented results allow to relate the propensity of plate tectonics not only to a planet's mass but also to its composition, structure, age, and hence partially to its formation environment, host star, and location in the Galaxy - allowing us to start embedding habitability from an interior perspective within the framework of Galactic habitability.

  16. 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.

  17. Silurian to Early Carboniferous plate tectonic model of Central Europe

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Golonka, Jan; Barmuta, Jan; Barmuta, Maria

    2014-05-01

    The presented plate tectonic model focuses on Silurian to Early Carboniferous evolution of Central Europe with special attention given to the Sudetes region (north and north-east part of the Bohemian Massif). During our studies, we tested alternative models focused on the position of the Armorican terranes, known as the Armorican Terrane Assembly (ATA) (e.g.: Matte, 2001) and tried to refine the existing reconstructions, which describe Armorica as an individual continent during the Late Silurian and Devonian (e.g. Lewandowski, 2003, Winchester, 2002). Our plate tectonic model depict that these small blocks were scattered along the northern margin of Gondwana, where they formed the "Armorican Spour" as suggested by Kroner and Romer (2013). The seaways were present between blocks. Because of the north dipping subduction zone along the southern margin of the Laurussia continent the back-arc basin and island arc were formed. The narrowing of the Rheic ocean led to the complicated collision of Gondwana and Laurussia. Three main stages of this event can be distinguished: (1) collision of the Armorican Spour with the Laurussian island arc, (2) back-arc basin closure, (3) final Gondwana and Laurussian collision. Those stages correlate well with Variscan Subduction Zone System proposed by Kroner and Romer (2013). Interactive modeling performed in GPlates, shows that the presented model is valid from kinematic and geometrical point of view. Kroner U., Romer R., L., 2013, Two plates - many subduction zones: the Variscan orogeny reconsidered. Gondwana Research, 24: 298-329. Lewandowski M., 2003, Assembly of Pangea: Combined paleomagnetic and paleoclimatic approach, Advances in Geophysics, 46: 199-236 Matte P., 2001, The Variscan collage and orogeny (480 290 Ma) and the tectonic definition of the Armorica microplate: a review. Terra Nova, 13: 122C128. Winchester J., A., The Pace TMR Network Team, 2002, Palaeozoic amalgamation of Central Europe: new results from recent geological and geophysical investigations, Tectonophysics, 360: 5-21

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. Early plate tectonics versus single-plate tectonics on Mars: Evidence from magnetic field history and crust evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Breuer, D.; Spohn, T.

    2003-07-01

    The consequences of an early epoch of plate tectonics on Mars followed by single-plate tectonics with stagnant lid mantle convection on both crust production and magnetic field generation have been studied with parameterized mantle convection models. Thermal history models with parameterized mantle convection, not being dynamo models, can provide necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for dynamo action. It is difficult to find early plate tectonics models that can reasonably explain crust formation, as is required by geological and geophysical observations, and allow an early magnetic field that is widely accepted as the cause for the observed magnetic anomalies. Dating of crust provinces and topography and gravity data suggest a crust production rate monotonically declining through the Noachian and Hesperian and a present-day crust thickness of more than 50 km. Plate tectonics cools the mantle and core efficiently, and the core may easily generate an early magnetic field. Given a sufficiently weak mantle rheology, plate tectonics can explain a field even if the core is not initially superheated with respect to the mantle. Because the crust production rate is proportional to temperature, however, an early efficient cooling will frustrate later crust production and therefore cannot explain, for example, the absence of prominent magnetic anomalies in the northern crustal province and the northern volcanic plains in the Early Hesperian. Voluminous crust formation following plate tectonics is possible if plate tectonics heat transfer is inefficient but then the crust growth rate has a late peak (about 2 Ga b.p.), which is not observed. These models also require a substantial initial superheating of the core to allow a dynamo. If one accepts the initial superheating, then, as we will show, a simple thermal evolution model with monotonic cooling of the planet due to stagnant lid mantle convection underneath a single plate throughout the evolution can better reconcile early crust formation and magnetic field generation.

  4. 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 and regulation of gases relevant for life. This allows for the first time to discuss the tectonic mode of a rocky planet from a practical astrophysical perspective.

  5. 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.

  6. Euler rotations in plate-tectonic reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Greiner, B.

    1999-04-01

    Euler rotations describe the motions of rigid plates on a sphere and can be used to perform paleogeographic reconstructions and to compare paleomagnetic data from different continents. The properties and mathematical equations for these rotations are summarized. Subroutines and example programs in Turbo Pascal that perform Euler rotations and calculate angular velocities and relative plate velocities are presented.

  7. Hierarchical self-organization of tectonic plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morra, Gabriele; Mueller, Dietmar; Seton, Maria

    2010-05-01

    It is well known that the earth surface is divided in plates of different size and it has been already proposed by (Bird, 2003) and (Sornette and Pisarenko, 2003) that their distribution follows a fractal law. It is however controversial the origin of the size of the largest ones, whether their dimension is caused by coupling with mantle convection or due to a fragmentation process as well. We investigate the time evolution of the distribution of plate size in the last 140Ma employing the most up-to-date available reconstructions of plate boundary. We find that (1) the distribution of the largest plates and of the smallest plates are always decoupled in the last 45Myrs and therefore they respond to different physical mechanisms; (2) the distribution of the smallest plates is relatively constant in the last 45Myrs and corresponds to a fragmentation law, confirming what envisaged by Bird; (3) a power law type distribution of the largest plates in the last 140Myrs has been detected for the first time, involving no more then 7-8 plates but being always a robust verifiable feature; (4) the fluctuations of the power law exponent for the largest plates oscillate in a timeframe of tens of millions of years, reaching a maximum of almost one about 60-50Ma, and a minimum of almost zero 110-100Ma: this last tessellation corresponds to a perfect Benard convection; (5) the growth, mostly in the period 100-80Ma, is much faster then the following relaxation and seems to indicate a pulsation, probably due to a radical change in the dynamics of the Earth deep interiors.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 tectonics regime. References [1] Parnell, J. (2004): Plate tectonics, surface mineralogy, and the early evolution of life. Int. J. Astrobio. 3(2): 131-137. [2] Rosing, M.T.; D.K. Bird, N.H. Sleep, W. Glassley, and F. Albar (2006): The rise of continents - An essay on the geologic consequences of photosynthesis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 232 (2006) 99-11. [3] Stamenkovic, V.; D. Breuer and T. Spohn (2011): Thermal and transport properties of mantle rock at high pressure: Applications to super-Earths. Submitted to Icarus. [4] Valencia, D., R.J. O'Connell and D.D. Sasselov (2007): Inevitability of plate tectonics on super-Earths. Astrophys. J. Let. 670(1): 45-48. [5] O'Neill, C. and A. Lenardic (2007). Geological consequences of super-sized Earths. GRL 34: 1-41.

  10. 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.

  11. 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)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Generation of plate tectonics via grain-damage and pinning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, D.; Ricard, Y. R.

    2012-12-01

    Weakening and shear localization in the lithosphere are essential ingredients for understanding how and whether plate tectonics is generated from mantle convection on terrestrial planets. The grain-damage and pinning mechanism of Bercovici & Ricard (2012) for lithospheric shear--localization proposes that damage to the interface between phases in a polycrystalline material like peridotite (composed primarily of olivine and pyroxene) increases the number of small Zener pinning surfaces that constrain mineral grains to ever smaller sizes regardless of creep mechanism. This effect allows a self-softening feedback in which damage and grain-reduction can co-exist with a grain-size dependent diffusion creep rheology; moreoever, grain growth and weak-zone healing are greatly impeded by Zener pinning thereby leading to long-lived relic weak zones. This mechanism is employed in two-dimensional flow calculations to test its ability to generate toroidal (strike-slip) motion from convective type flow and to influence plate evolution. The fluid dynamical calculations employ source-sink driven flow as a proxy for convective poloidal flow (upwelling/downwelling and divergent/convergent motion), and the coupling of this flow with non-linear rheological mechanisms excites toroidal or strike-slip motion. The numerical experiments show that pure dislocation-creep rheology, and grain-damage without Zener pinning (as occurs in a single-phase assemblages) permit only weak localization and toroidal flow; however, the full grain-damage with pinning readily allows focussed localization and intense, plate-like toroidal motion and strike-slip deformation. Rapid plate motion changes are also tested with abrupt rotations of the source-sink field after a plate-like configuration is developed; the post-rotation flow and material property fields are found to never recover or lose memory of the original configuration, leading to suboptimally aligned plate boundaries (e.g., strike-slip margins non-parallel to plate motion), oblique subduction and highly localized, weak and long lived acute plate-boundary junctions such as at the Aleution-Kurile intersection. The grain-damage and pinning theory therefore readily satisfies key plate-tectonic metrics of localized toroidal motion and plate-boundary inheritance, and thus provides a predictive theory for the generation of plate tectonics on Earth and other planets. References: Bercovici, D., Ricard, Y., 2012. Mechanisms for the generation of plate tectonics by two-phase grain-damage and pinning. Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 202-203, 27--55.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 the surface of the Earth.

  17. 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.

  18. Multi-Agent Simulations of Earth's Dynamics: Towards a Virtual Laboratory for Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grigne, C.; Combes, M.; Tisseau, C.; LeYaouanq, S.; Parenthoen, M.; Tisseau, J.

    2012-12-01

    MACMA (Multi-Agent Convective MAntle) is a new tool developed at Laboratoire Domaines Océaniques (UMR CNRS 6538) and CERV-LabSTICC (Centre Européen de Réalité Virtuelle, UMR CNRS 6285) to simulate evolutive plates tectonics and mantle convection in a 2-D cylindrical geometry (Combes et al., 2012). In this approach, ridges, subduction zones, continents and convective cells are agents, whose behavior is controlled by analytical and phenomenological laws. These agents are autonomous entities which collect information from their environment and interact with each other. The dynamics of the system is mainly based on a force balance on each plate, that accounts for slab pull, ridge push, bending dissipation and viscous convective drag. Insulating continents are accounted for. Tectonic processes such as trench migration, plate suturing or continental breakup are controlled by explicit parameterizations. A heat balance is used to compute Earth's thermal evolution as a function of seafloor age distribution. We thereby obtain an evolutive system where the geometry and the number of tectonic plates are not imposed but emerge naturally from its dynamical history. Our approach has a very low computational cost and allows us to study the effect of a wide range of input parameters on the long-term thermal evolution of the Earth. MACMA can thus be seen as a 'plate tectonics virtual laboratory'. We can test not only the effect of input parameters, such as mantle initial temperature and viscosity, initial plate tectonics configuration, number and geometry of continents etc., but also study the effect of the analytical and empirical rules that we are using to describe the system. These rules can be changed at any time, and MACMA is an evolutive tool that can easily integrate new behavioral laws. Even poorly understood processes, that cannot be accounted for with differential equations, can be studied with this virtual laboratory. For Earth-like input parameters, MACMA yields plate velocities and heat flux that are in good agreement with observations. The long-term thermal evolution of the Earth obtained with our model shows a slow monotonous decrease of mantle mean temperature, with a cooling rate of around 50-100 K per billion years, which is in good agreement with petrological and geochemical constraints. Heat flux and plate velocities show a more irregular evolution, because tectonic events, such as a continental breakup, give rise to abrupt changes in Earth's surface dynamics and heat loss. Therefore MACMA is a powerful tool to study in a systematic way the effect of local events (subduction initiation, continental breakup, ridge vanishing) on plate reorganizations and global surface dynamics.

  19. How the interior viscosity structure of a terrestrial planet controls plate driving forces and plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hoeink, T.; Lenardic, A.; Jellinek, M.; Richards, M. A.

    2011-12-01

    One of the fundamental unresolved problems in Earth and planetary science is the generation of plate tectonics from mantle convection. Important achievements can be made when considering rheological properties in the context of mantle convection dynamics. Among these milestones are (1) a deeper understanding of the balance of forces that drive and resist plate motion and (2) the dynamic generation of narrow plate boundaries (that lead to a piecewise continuous surface velocity distribution). Extending classic plate-tectonic theory we predict a plate driving force due to viscous coupling at the base of the plate from fast flow in the asthenosphere. Flow in the asthenosphere is due to shear-driven contributions from an overriding plate and due to additional pressure-driven contributions. We use scaling analysis to show that the extent to which this additional plate-driving force contributes to plate motions depends on the lateral dimension of plates and on the relative viscosities and thicknesses of lithosphere and asthenosphere. Whereas slab-pull forces always govern the motions of plates with a lateral extent greater than the mantle depth, asthenosphere-drive forces can be relatively more important for smaller (shorter wavelength) plates, large relative asthenosphere viscosities or large asthenosphere thicknesses. Published plate velocities, tomographic images and age-binned mean shear wave velocity anomaly data allow us to estimate the relative contributions of slab-pull and asthenosphere-drive forces driving the motions of the Atlantic and Pacific plates. At the global scale of terrestrial planets, we use 3D spherical shell simulations of mantle convection with temperature-, depth- and stress dependent rheology to demonstrate that a thin low-viscosity layer (asthenosphere) governs convective stresses imparted to the lithosphere. We find, consistent with theoretical predictions, that convective stresses increase for thinner asthenospheres. This result might eliminate the need for special weakening mechanisms to generate plate tectonics from mantle convection. Our results elucidate the role of the asthenosphere for plate tectonics on Earth, and also provide insights into the differences in tectonic styles between Earth and Venus.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Mantle Rheology and Plate Tectonics: Damage and Inheritance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ricard, Y. R.; Bercovici, D.; Schubert, G.

    2014-12-01

    The specific rheology of the lithosphere that allows the existence of plate tectonics on Earth is poorly understood. This rheology must explain why plate tectonics initiated on Earth but not on Venus, which has very similar size and gravity, but also how changes in plate motion can occur on time scales more rapid than that of the deeper convection (~100 myrs). We suggest that a key ingredient of this rheology is the coupling of the grain size evolution of the polycrystalline rocks that constitute the mantle, with the flow. We demonstrate this process using a grain evolution and damage mechanism (Bercovici and Ricard, 2012) with a composite rheology, which are compatible with field and laboratory observations. Our model predicts that the grain size is controlled by an dynamic equilibrium where deformation tends to reduce the grain sizes which otherwise would spontaneously increase. The presence of secondary phases is crucial as it eases the grain size reduction and inhibits their too fast recoveries. The resulting time-dependent rheology is non-linear, leads to localisation on time scales much shorter than those of the typical transit time of mantle convection but has also a long healing time. These characteristics of fast damage and long term memory is shown in simple models to spontaneously generate plates on a planet with Earth's parameters. For Venus hotter surface conditions, accumulation and inheritance of damage is negligible; hence only subduction zones survive and plate tectonics does not spread. This rheology also explains how subducting slabs can be rapidly detached when a buoyant crust is drawn into subduction and therefore how rapid plate changes can occur.

  4. Influence of plate tectonic mode on the coupled thermochemical evolution of Earth's mantle and core

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nakagawa, Takashi; Tackley, Paul J.

    2015-10-01

    We investigate the influence of tectonic mode on the thermochemical evolution of simulated mantle convection coupled to a parameterized core cooling model. The tectonic mode is controlled by varying the friction coefficient for brittle behavior, producing the three tectonic modes: mobile lid (plate tectonics), stagnant lid, and episodic lid. The resulting compositional structure of the deep mantle is strongly dependent on tectonic mode, with episodic lid resulting in a thick layer of subducted basalt in the deep mantle, whereas mobile lid produces only isolated piles and stagnant lid no basaltic layering. The tectonic mode is established early on, with subduction initiating at around 60 Myr from the initial state in mobile and episodic cases, triggered by the arrival of plumes at the base of the lithosphere. Crustal production assists subduction initiation, increasing the critical friction coefficient. The tectonic mode has a strong effect on core evolution via its influence on deep mantle structure; episodic cases in which a thick layer of basalt builds up experience less core heat flow and cooling and a failed geodynamo. Thus, a continuous mobile-lid mode existing from early times matches Earth's mantle structure and core evolution better than an episodic mode characterized by large-scale flushing (overturn) events.

  5. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. Plate tectonic history of the Arctic

    SciTech Connect

    Burke, K.

    1985-02-01

    The Arctic Ocean represents the last great challenge in establishing the broad outlines of the histories of the present oceans of the earth. The rotation of the Lomonosov Ridge away from the Barents Shelf during the Cenozoic is well established, and a unique present relationship has been demonstrated between the Gakkel Ridge and the Poloussnoye graben system. Earlier history of the Arctic is poorly known, but a possible and testable scenario involves rifting of the North Slope Alaska-Chukotsk block (NSAC) from the Canadian Arctic islands during the Early Cretaceous and rifting of the New Siberian block (NSB) along strike on the same margin a little later. Both NSAC and NSB were involved, after rapid rotation, in the assembly of northeastern Asia with such other blocks as Greater Japan (much of Kyushu, Honshu, Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Sikhote Alin, Kamchatka, and Koryak) and Omolon. During earlier Mesozoic, Permian, and Carboniferous times, NSB and NSAC occupied one Atlantic-type margin of the triangular Boreal embayment of the Pacific, while the Verkhoyansk Atlantic-type margin of Siberia (with the prominent Vilyuy rift embayment) occupied the other. These 2 rifted margins, which are now caught up respectively in the Brooks Range-South Anyui-Sviatory Nos suture zone and the Sette Daban-Chirskiy suture zone, had formed during the Late Devonian close to the site of and shortly after the Innuitian suturing event between Siberia and North America.

  9. 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 rheology using a mixed Newtonian/non-Newtonian viscosity law including an elastic surface regime is expected to further differ from the Newtonian Arrhenius law.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

    A persistent problem in planetary science is how and when plate tectonics can begin in planetary evolution. On Earth, plate tectonics is thought to be facilitated by the low-viscosity asthenosphere, which obtains its low viscosity partly through low pressure, and partly through a water content on the order of hundreds of parts per million, likely trapped in the crystal structure of nominally anhydrous silicate minerals. Subduction zones introduce water contents of that magnitude to the mantle that circulates above the sinking oceanic plate, and subduction zones are sometimes cited as the process that hydrates an originally dry planetary interior. Thus there is a chicken-and-egg problem: If a damp asthenosphere is needed for plate tectonics, but plate tectonics itself creates the damp asthenosphere, how does the process initiate? Despite the existence of a metallic (reduced) core, both the compositions of meteorites and the certainty of radial mixing during accretion suggest that the Earth and other rocky planets accreted with some non-zero water content. Tracking water partitioning between magma ocean fluids and solidifying mantle minerals suggests that the planetary interior could begin with a non-zero water content. Here we present models for the interior water content of the Earth following accretion, and hypothesize about a dynamic processes that may have sped the development of plate tectonics. On an Earth-sized planet a magma ocean would solidify to produce very dense near-surface solids that also contain the bulk of the water held in the solid state, and the bulk of the incompatible elements. During gravitationally-driven overturn shallow, dense, damp solids carry their water as they sink into the perovskite stability zone and transform the bulk of their mineralogy into perovskite. The last solids that form near the surface exceed the likely water saturation levels of perovskite and will be forced to dewater as they cross the boundary into the lower mantle, 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.

  12. Gondwana Tales: an inquiry approach to plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Domènech Casal, Jordi

    2014-05-01

    Plate tectonics and its effects on the constitution of seas and continents are key models in science education. Fossil evidences are usually taught in demostrative key when Wegener's discoverings about Pangea are introduced. In order to introduce inquiry-based science education (IBSE) approaches to this topic, we propose "Gondwana Tales", an activity where students are asked to use fossil data to reconstruct the geologic history of an imaginary planet. Grouped in independent teams, each team is furnished with stratigraphic columns from several sites containing faunistic successions of real organisms existing in the past in Earth. Students are told to reconstruct a model of the evolution of the continents, by making calculations of relative ages of the fossils, and relating each fossil to a geologic era. The different teams have incomplete and complementary information. After a first step where they have to propose a partial model based on incomplete data, each team receives a "visitor scientist" from another team, this implying an informal scientific communication event. This process is performed several times, engaging a discussion in each team and getting a final consensus model created by the whole class. Correct answer is not given to the students, even at the end of the activity, to keep the activity under the parameters of real scientific experience, where there is not a "correct answer" to compare. Instead of this, and following the IBSE standards, a reflection on the process is proposed to students. The lack of complete information and the need to collaborate are part of classroom dynamics focused to the understanding of the process of creation of the scientific knowledge. This activity is part of the C3 Project on Creation of Scientific Knowledge that is being applied in the school.

  13. Mantle convection and plate tectonics on Earth-like exoplanets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sotin, C.; Schubert, G.

    2009-12-01

    The likelihood of plate tectonics on exoplanets larger than Earth can be assessed using either scaling laws or numerical models describing mantle thermal convection. We investigate the parameters which control the ratio of convective driving forces to lithosphere resisting forces. Two papers, Valencia et al. (AstroPhys. J., 670, L45-L48, 2007) and ONeill and Lenardic (Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L19204, 2007), came to opposite conclusions based on scaling laws and numerical calculations, respectively. The different assumptions and parameters used in each study are compared. The definition of thermal boundary layer and lithosphere and the use of their characteristics in the scaling laws are clarified. We show that Valencia et al. (2007) overestimate the ratio of driving forces to resistive forces because they infer too large values for both the thickness of the thermal boundary layer and the length of the plate and too small a value for the yield strength. We show that this ratio is so weakly dependent on the size of an Earth-like planet that other parameters such as presence of water, heating per unit mass, upper mantle thickness, etc., may actually determine the occurrence or not of plate tectonics. The numerical calculations of ONeill and Lenardic (2007) show the importance of 2D simulations for determining the values of the velocity below the lithosphere, the convective stresses, and the plate dimensions. It demonstrates the need for 3D spherical numerical simulations. Their conclusion that super-Earths would not have plate tectonics depends on a number of assumptions including the constancy of heat-flux as a function of planetary size. We present a 3D spherical scaling including the increase of heat flux with the size of a planet showing that larger Earth-like planets would be marginally in the mobile lid convection regime reinforcing our caution that other factors may tip the balance. The present study points out the importance of the distance between plumes for calculating the driving force. It is suggested that the formation of hot plumes at the core-mantle boundary and their interaction with the upper thermal boundary layer may play an important role in triggering plate tectonics. Part of this work has been carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA.

  14. 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.

  15. Subduction hinge migration: The backwards component of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stegman, D.; Freeman, J.; Schellart, W.; Moresi, L.; May, D.

    2005-12-01

    There are approximately 50 distinct segments of subduction zones in the world, of which 40% have oceanic lithosphere subducting under oceanic lithosphere. All of these ocean-ocean systems are currently experiencing hinge-rollback, with the exception of 2 (Mariana and Kermadec). In hinge-rollback, the surface trace of the suduction zone (trench) is moving in the opposite direction as the plate is moving (i.e. backwards). Coincidentally, the fastest moving plate boundary in the world is actually the Tonga trench at an estimated 17 cm/yr (backwards). Although this quite important process was recognized soon after the birth of plate tectonic theory (Elsasser, 1971), it has received only a limited amount of attention (Garfunkel, 1986; Kincaid and Olson, 1987) until recently. Laboratory models have shown that having a three dimensional experiment is essential in order to build a correct understanding of subduction. We have developed a numerical model with the neccessary 3-D geometry capable of investigating some fundamental questions of plate tectonics: How does hinge-rollback feedback into surface tectonics and mantle flow? What can we learn about the forces that drive plate tectonics by studying hinge-rollback? We will present a quantatitive analysis of the effect of the lateral width of subduction zones, the key aspect to understanding the nature of hinge-rollback. Additionally, particular emphasis has been put on gaining intuition through the use of movies (a 3-D rendering of the numerical models), illustrating the time evolution of slab interactions with the lower mantle as seen in such fields as velocity magnitude, strain rate, viscosity, as well as the toroidal and poloidal components of induced flow. This investigation is well-suited to developing direct comparisons with geological and geophysical observations such as geodetically determined hinge retreat rates, geochemical and petrological observations of arc volcanics and back-arc ridge basalts, timing and distribution of metamorphic core complexes in backarc basins under extension, paleostress observables such surface movements and block rotations, observations of seismic anistropy determined by shear wave splitting, and the emerging studies of regional tomographic models of seismic anistropy.

  16. 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…

  17. 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.

  18. Plate tectonic evolution of the Mediterranean-Middle East region

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gealey, W. K.

    1988-12-01

    An interpretive model for the Mesozoic-Cenozoic plate tectonic evolution of the Mediterranean and adjacent areas is illustrated by a series of paleoposition maps at selected intervals between the Late Triassic and Recent. This interval witnessed an important period of tensional development during the Triassic and Jurassic that fragmented Pangea after its Late Paleozoic consolidation. A number of oceanic areas evolved through Jurassic time, all of which have since been consumed during the Alpine orogeny. During the Cretaceous and Tertiary, sea-floor spreading geometry in the North and South Atlantic resulted in convergence between Africa and Eurasia that controlled the evolution of the Mediterranean and adjacent Middle East areas from the Late Mesozoic to Recent. The interpretation departs from several previous ones in the following respects: (1) The Eastern Mediterranean and adjacent Middle East area are interpreted to have developed as two seaways with an intervening continental sliver derived from Africa that now comprises Central Turkey and West Iran. These seaways persisted from the Late Triassic to Late Cretaceous, by which time they were largely consumed by northward subduction. (2) Spreading that produced the present Eastern Mediterranean Sea developed during the Late Cretaceous, driving the Tripolitza-Eratosthenes-Iskenderun continental fragments northward from Africa to collision with Central Turkey as the preceding southern arm of the Mesozoic Tethys sea-floor was entirely consumed. Initial block faulting in this zone occurred during the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous but without subsidence reaching clearly bathyal depths until the Cenomanian-Turonian. This differs from the timing of events in the "Ionian" sequence of the Pindic Nappe of Crete, which shows a change from shallow carbonate shelf in the Triassic to deep basin in the Liassic to the north of equivalent platform facies of the Tripolitza Nappe. (3) Moesia and Rhodope are concluded to have been a single plate until a rifting event that started during the Late Jurassic. The Balkan Mountains are interpreted to represent an Alpine inversion of this Mesozoic rift system that extended west from the Black Sea Basin. (4) The Eastern Carpathian microcontinental sliver is concluded as continuing southward as the Serbo-Macedonian Massif that separates Rhodope from the Vardar Zone rather than as Rhodope itself. (5) The Scutari-Pec Lineament is considered as representing a major discontinuity between the Apulia-Pannonian plate and adjacent Greece and Turkey. Ophiolites to the northwest of this lineament originated in a single oceanic area, the Vardar Zone. Ophiolites to the southeast of this lineament evolved from two oceanic areas, those of interior Greece and northern Anatolia and the associated Ankara melange relating to the Vardar Zone, the former north arm of Tethys. and the Pindos-southern Anatolia-Zagros-Oman Ophiolites relating to a former south arm of Mesozoic Tethys. (6) Based on the history of development of various elements of the Alpine system, there is a strong suggestion that important dextral movement took place along a major strike-slip fault system reaching from the Middle East to the Central Alps between Late Cretaceous and Middle Eocene times. Sestini (1984).

  19. 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 Western U.S.) and geoid lows (e.g., the Congo Basin in Africa). All three of these geoid studies have implications for our understanding of the dynamics of plate tectonics. The 10-15 m geoid highs associated globally with ridges are consistent with a net force of ~3x1012 N/m due to 'ridge push.' Converting gradients in the oceanic 'lithospheric' geoid produce net torques on the plates consistent with this magnitude of 'ridge push.' The 6-9 meter geoid step up across passive continental margins is important for two reasons. First, it is consistent with a reduction of the ridge force acting on the continents, as evidenced by increased strike slip and normal deformation on the continents compared to oceanic lithosphere. Second, the very fact that such a small geoid step can affect tectonic style is evidence that even relatively small forces, like the ridge force compared to the negative buoyancy of subducted lithosphere, can be important in plate dynamics. Furthermore, the predicted intraplate stresses computed using a finite-element analysis of a lithospheric shell under traction from the gravitational potential energy forces associated with the lithospheric geoid provide a remarkably good fit between the predicted and observed intraplate stress field at long wavelengths (~1000km) and indicates that tectonic forces associated with the lithospheric density moment play an important role in global geodynamics.

  20. 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.

  1. Tectonic database and plate tectonic model of the former USSR territory

    SciTech Connect

    Bocharova, N.Yu.; Scotese, C.R.; Pristavakina, E.I.; Zonenshain, L.P. . Center for Russian Geology and Tectonics)

    1993-02-01

    A digital geographic database for the former USSR was compiled using published geologic and geodynamic maps and the unpublished suture map of Lev Zonenshain (1991). The database includes more than 900 tectonic features: strike-slip faults, sutures, thrusts, fossil and active rifts, fossil and active subduction zones, boundaries of the major and minor Precambrian blocks, ophiolites, and various volcanic complexes. The attributes of each structural unit include type of structure, name, age, tectonic setting and geographical coordinates. Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic reconstructions of the former USSR and adjacent regions were constructed using this tectonic database together with paleomagnetic data and the motions of continent over fixed hot spots. Global apparent polar wander paths in European and Siberian coordinates were calculated back to Cambrian time, using the paleomagnetic pole summaries of Van der Voo (1992) and Khramov (1992) and the global plate tectonic model of the Paleomap Project (Scotese and Becker, 1992). Trajectories of intraplate volcanics in South Siberia, Mongolia, Scandinavia and data on the White Mountain plutons and Karoo flood basalts were also taken into account. Using new data, the authors recalculated the stage and finite poles for the rotation of the Siberia and Europe with respect to the hot spot reference frame for the time interval 160 to 450 Ma.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. Subduction and Plate Edge Tectonics in the Southern Caribbean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Levander, A.; Schmitz, M.; Niu, F.; Bezada, M. J.; Miller, M. S.; Masy, J.; Ave Lallemant, H. G.; Pindell, J. L.; Bolivar Working Group

    2013-05-01

    The southern Caribbean plate boundary consists of a subduction zone at at either end of a complex strike-slip fault system: In the east at the Lesser Antilles subduction zone, the Atlantic part of the South American plate subducts beneath the Caribbean. In the north and west in the Colombia basin, the Caribbean subducts under South America. In a manner of speaking, the two plates subduct beneath each other. Finite-frequency teleseismic P-wave tomography confirms this, imaging the Atlantic and the Caribbean plates subducting steeply in opposite directions to transition zone depths under northern South America (Bezada et al, 2010). The two subduction zones are connected by the El Pilar-San Sebastian strike-slip fault system, a San Andreas scale system that has been cut off at the Bocono fault, the southeastern boundary fault of the Maracaibo block. A variety of seismic probes identify subduction features at either end of the system (Niu et al, 2007; Clark et al., 2008; Miller et al. 2009; Growdon et al., 2009; Huang et al., 2010; Masy et al, 2011). The El Pilar system forms at the southeastern corner of the Antilles subduction zone with the Atlantic plate tearing from South America. The deforming plate edges control mountain building and basin formation at the eastern end of the strike-slip system. Tearing the Atlantic plate from the rest of South America appears to cause further lithospheric instability continentward. In northwestern South America the Caribbean plate very likely also tears, as its southernmost element subducts at shallow angles under northernmost Colombia but then rapidly descends to the transition zone under Lake Maracaibo (Bezada et al., 2010). We believe that the flat slab controls the tectonics of the Neogene Merida Andes, Perija, and Santa Marta ranges. The nonsubducting part of the Caribbean plate also underthrusts northern Venezuela to about the width of the coastal mountains (Miller et al., 2009). We infer that the edge of the underthrust Caribbean plate supports the elevations of the coastal mountains and controls continuing deformation.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.…

  10. 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 plank correctly answered a multiple-choice question that would appear to indicate a better understanding than the drawings reveal. Furthermore, 12 interviewed students made statements that could be interpreted to indicate that they understood the concept of mountain building at plate tectonic boundaries better than their drawings suggest. Incoherence of multiple-choice responses, verbal statements and drawings may be common in novice learners. If cognitive scientists are correct in their model of multiple types of mental representations for the same term, then the fact that novices may hold inconsistent representations is not surprising. The fact that students at various academic levels draw very similar prototypes that are incorrect is evidence that students have distinct and persistent prototype misconceptions. * Cognitive scientists define a prototypical/exemplar concept as a mental representation of the best examples or central tendencies of a term.

  11. 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 regards to past and future North American intraplate deformation are also discussed. Our results indicate that there exists a number of tectonic environments that can be produced relating to continental accretion, and that specific observational constraints to the local area (e.g., geological, geophysical, geodetic) are required to be integrated directly into the analyses for better interpretation. The models shown here find that although rheological changes to the lithosphere can produce a range of deformation during continental convergence (i.e., crustal thickening, thinning, and folding), mantle weak zones from ancient subduction can generate more localized deformation and topography.

  12. Lessons learned while playing with the Arctic plate tectonic puzzle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Skogseid, J.; Meisling, K. E.; Miller, E. L.; Nikishin, A. M.

    2013-12-01

    The plate tectonic evolution of the Amerasia Basin in the Arctic Ocean is controversial, and a number of models have been suggested in which the common denominator is that they are all poorly constrained. In general the Canada Basin and the Makarov-Podvodnikov Basin, are separated by the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge, which has a bathymetric and geophysical signature indicating either over-thickened oceanic crust or magmatically overprinted continental fragments. Both interpretations imply that the ridge has a connection to the High Arctic Large Igneous Province probably associated with a mantle plume emplacement beneath the lithosphere, causing excess magmatism in the region starting at about 125 Ma. It is widely accepted that the ';windshield wiper' model of Lawver et al. (2002) is applicable for the Canada Basin proper, yet it is still debated whether the boundary transform is located close to the Lomonosov Ridge, beneath the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge, or on the Alaskan side of the Chukchi Borderland and Northwind Ridge. It remains a major uncertainty where large offset regional shear zones required by some models could be hidden beneath the Arctic continental shelves and how they were linked into the South Anhui Paleo-Ocean. The approach taken in this study is to dissect the Chukotka terranes, formed by long-lived compressional tectonism associated with the Pacific subduction system, to explore different scenarios for South Anhui Ocean evolution and consider potential Paleo-Pacific driving mechanisms for Amerasia Basin opening. The Chukotka terranes represent a complex of magmatic and sedimentary units younging towards the subduction zone, thus allowing restoration by ';undocking' them one by one. The remaining elements of the Alaskan and Siberian shelves are subsequently linked to conjugate elements on the North American and Eurasian plates based on correlation of geochemical and stratigraphic ';tie-points'. The study utilizes available geological markers, crustal cross sections, gravity and magnetic data, and mantle tomography models, seeking to discover pros and cons for different plate tectonic scenarios, with the ultimate goal of a unified model.

  13. 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 evolution of intense back arc spreading and rapid roll back associated with some ocean-ocean subduction zones. I will look at the dynamics driving global plate motions and the time-dependence of trench rollback regionally. Capitalizing on advances in adaptive mesh refinement algorithms on parallel computers with individual plate margins resolved down to a scale of 1 kilometer, observationally constrained, high-resolution models of global mantle flow now capture the role of slabs and show how plate tectonics is regulated by the rheology of slabs. Back-arc extension and slab rollback are emergent consequences of slab descent in the upper mantle. I will then describe regional, time-dependent models, address the causes and consequences of subduction initiation, and show that most back arc extension follows subduction initiation. Returning to the global models, inverse models using the full adjoint of the variable viscosity, Stokes equation are now possible and allow an even greater link between present-day geophysical observations and the dynamics from local to global scales.

  14. Global Ocean Sedimentation Patterns: Plate Tectonic History Versus Climate Change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Goswami, A.; Reynolds, E.; Olson, P.; Hinnov, L. A.; Gnanadesikan, A.

    2014-12-01

    Global sediment data (Whittaker et al., 2013) and carbonate content data (Archer, 1996) allows examination of ocean sedimentation evolution with respect to age of the underlying ocean crust (Mller et al., 2008). From these data, we construct time series of ocean sediment thickness and carbonate deposition rate for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian ocean basins for the past 120 Ma. These time series are unique to each basin and reflect an integrated response to plate tectonics and climate change. The goal is to parameterize ocean sedimentation tied to crustal age for paleoclimate studies. For each basin, total sediment thickness and carbonate deposition rate from 0.1 x 0.1 degree cells are binned according to basement crustal age; area-corrected moments (mean, variance, etc.) are calculated for each bin. Segmented linear fits identify trends in present-day carbonate deposition rates and changes in ocean sedimentation from 0 to 120 Ma. In the North and South Atlantic and Indian oceans, mean sediment thickness versus crustal age is well represented by three linear segments, with the slope of each segment increasing with increasing crustal age. However, the transition age between linear segments varies among the three basins. In contrast, mean sediment thickness in the North and South Pacific oceans are numerically smaller and well represented by two linear segments with slopes that decrease with increasing crustal age. These opposing trends are more consistent with the plate tectonic history of each basin being the controlling factor in sedimentation rates, rather than climate change. Unlike total sediment thickness, carbonate deposition rates decrease smoothly with crustal age in all basins, with the primary controls being ocean chemistry and water column depth.References: Archer, D., 1996, Global Biogeochem. Cycles 10, 159-174.Mller, R.D., et al., 2008, Science, 319, 1357-1362.Whittaker, J., et al., 2013, Geochem., Geophys., Geosyst. DOI: 10.1002/ggge.20181

  15. 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 petrological changes may accompany the crustal thickening, e.g., eclogitization, and delamination, 2) Rather than the detachment the exhumation of the metamorphic core of the Central Range is the main engine of the orogeny, and 3) The lithosphere has a complex rheological structure, indicated, in part, by the spatial distribution of seismicity.

  16. Phanerozoic tectonic regimes of Australia reflect global events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veevers, J. J.; Powell, C. McA.

    Phanerozoic Australia was marked by three regimes: Uluru (570-320 Ma), Innamincka (320-97 Ma) and Potoroo (97-0 Ma). Each regime, a complex of uniform plate-tectonic and palaeo-climatic events at a similar or slowly changing latitude, generated a depositional sequence of distinct facies bounded by unconformities at the margins and by stratigraphic gaps in the interior. The Uluru sequence in the interior is dominated by low-latitude shallow-water (including marine carbonate) deposits, the Innamincka sequence by high-latitude non-marine (including glacial) deposits, and the Potoroo sequence by increasingly lower latitude deposits confined almost wholly to the margins. On the east a change from Chilean- to Mariana-type subduction marked the boundary between the Innamincka and Potoroo regimes. The Australian regimes resemble those of the other Gondwanaland fragments, and in particular the Innamincka resembles the Gondwana sequence of peninsular India. The Gondwanaland regimes, in turn, reflect those that pertained in the rest of the globe, as part of two Phanerozoic super-cycles, each ca 400 Ma long, the first Palaeozoic-Early Mesozoic, the second Late Mesozoic-Cenozoic. Each reflects a cycle of mantle convection expressed through time variation in plutonism and hence in the concentration of atmospheric CO 2 and in greenhouse-icehouse effects, in continental dispersion-aggregation (Pangaea) and eustatic sea level, and in sediment type, from marine platform sediment during high sea level to non-marine during low sea level.

  17. 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 body, formed in the continental edge in the late period of the plate subduction. Late Permian Halaheshao intrusion is a granite formed in the colluvial period of a post-orogeny after two tectonic plates have collided.Late Triassic Taolegai,Gechoushan,and Shadegai magmatic bodies belong to granites formed by intracontinental nappes after Lausasia paleocontinent was generated.

  18. Initiation and Evolution of Plate Tectonics on Earth: Theories and Observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Korenaga, Jun

    2013-05-01

    The inception of plate tectonics on Earth and its subsequent evolution are discussed on the basis of theoretical considerations and observational constraints. The likelihood of plate tectonics in the past depends on what mechanism is responsible for the relatively constant surface heat flux that is indicated by the likely thermal history of Earth. The continuous operation of plate tectonics throughout Earth's history is possible if, for example, the strength of convective stress in the mantle is affected by the gradual subduction of surface water. Various geological indicators for the emergence of plate tectonics are evaluated from a geodynamical perspective, and they invariably involve certain implicit assumptions about mantle dynamics, which are either demonstrably wrong or yet to be explored. The history of plate tectonics is suggested to be intrinsically connected to the secular evolution of the atmosphere, through sea-level changes caused by ocean-mantle interaction.

  19. 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

  20. 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 Earthand what the tectonic structure of Earth was before thisremain 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.

  1. 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 deforms at a given stress can acquire two stable deformation regimes indicative of plate-like flows, i.e., it permits the coexistence of both slowly deforming plate interiors, and rapidly deforming plate boundaries. Earth seems to exist squarely inside the hysteresis loop and thus can have coexisting deformation states, while Venus appears to straddle the end of the loop where only the weakly deforming branch exists.

  2. Dynamic Analysis of Modifications to Simple Plate Tectonic Theory

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paczkowski, Karen

    A number of geological and geophysical observations suggest significant departures from simple, first-order plate tectonic theory. In this thesis we address the dynamic implications of some of these observations and propose generalized theories to explain their dynamics and conditions of formation. In Chapter 2, we develop a generalized theory and analytic model to predict the conditions under which large-volume removal of continental lithosphere can occur through the formation of drip instabilities. Using damage physics relevant for Earth, we find a large portion of the lithosphere may be mobilized and entrained into growing drip instabilities. For a critical amount of damage, the growth is accelerated sufficiently that large-volume drip instabilities may form within geologically feasible time frames. Our model suggests large-volume lithospheric drip instabilities may arise independently of tectonic settings through damage-assisted mobilization and entrainment of the highly viscous lithosphere. In Chapter 3, we develop a mechanical model independent of volcanism and thermal weakening to explain the initial formation and length scale of rifting and extension near convergent plate boundaries. We conduct a linear stability analysis of a simple viscous necking model, which includes the lithosphere's negative buoyancy, non-Newtonian rheology, and freely moving top surface, to determine which properties of the lithosphere govern the location of rifting. We find that the negative buoyancy of the lithosphere promotes the formation of rifting structures when simple Newtonian viscosities are present. However, localized weakening, introduced through a power law exponent, is required to generate realistic rifting length scales. Our model suggests that the initial location of rifting in the overriding plate at subduction zones is primarily due to the mechanical extension induced by rollback of the subducting slab. In Chapter 4, we propose a theory to explain the seismic anisotropy directions observed in the subslab mantle of subduction zones globally. We develop a three-dimensional model using COMSOL Multiphysics to investigate how interactions among the background mantle flow, trench migration, and the geometry of the slab determine the flow direction in the subslab mantle. We find that flow directions are determined primarily by the amount of coupling between the slab and the mantle, and the interaction between the net background flow (including trench migration) and the slab geometry. We present three-dimensional finite strain calculations, which demonstrate that the maximum stretching directions are aligned with the model subslab flow directions, allowing us to compare our flow directions directly to seismic anisotropy splitting directions of subduction zones globally. Our model successfully predicts the flow directions (parallel or perpendicular) suggested by a global dataset of fast splitting directions using only the net background mantle flow, and slab dip and depth.

  3. Initiation of plate tectonics from post-magma ocean thermochemical convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, Bradford J.; Bercovici, David; Elkins-Tanton, Linda T.

    2014-11-01

    Leading theories for the presence of plate tectonics on Earth typically appeal to the role of present day conditions in promoting rheological weakening of the lithosphere. However, it is unknown whether the conditions of the early Earth were favorable for plate tectonics, or any form of subduction, and thus, how subduction begins is unclear. Using physical models based on grain-damage, a grainsize-feedback mechanism capable of producing plate-like mantle convection, we demonstrate that subduction was possible on the Hadean Earth (hereafter referred to as proto-subduction or proto-plate tectonics), that proto-subduction differed from modern day plate tectonics, and that it could initiate rapidly. Scaling laws for convection with grain-damage show that though either higher mantle temperatures or higher surface temperatures lead to slower plates, proto-subduction, with plate speeds of ?1.75 cm/yr, can still be maintained in the Hadean, even with a CO2 rich primordial atmosphere. Furthermore, when the mantle potential temperature is high (e.g., above ?2000 K), the mode of subduction switches to a "sluggish subduction" style, where downwellings are drip like and plate boundaries are diffuse. Finally, numerical models of post-magma ocean mantle convection demonstrate that proto-plate tectonics likely initiates within 100 Myr of magma ocean solidification, consistent with evidence from Hadean zircons. After the initiation of proto-subduction, non-plate-tectonic "sluggish subduction" prevails, giving way to modern style plate tectonics as both the mantle interior and climate cool. Hadean proto-subduction may hasten the onset of modern plate tectonics by drawing excess CO2 out of the atmosphere and cooling the climate.

  4. 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

  5. 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 plumes, which disrupts the structure of the oceanic lithospheres, lowers the heat flow and may even starve ultraslow ridges from partial melting.

  6. Conditions for Plate Tectonics on Super-Earths: Inferences From Convection Models With Damage

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, B. J.; Bercovici, D.

    2012-04-01

    Numerical simulations of mantle convection with a damage-grainsize feedback are used to develop scaling laws for predicting conditions at which super-Earths would have plate tectonics. In particular, the numerical simulations are used to determine how large a viscosity ratio between pristine lithosphere and mantle (?l/?m) can be offset by damage to allow mobile (plate-like) convection. Regime diagrams of ?l/?m versus the damage number (D) show that the transition from stagnant lid to mobile convection occurs for higher ?l/?m as D increases; a similar trend occurs for increasing Rayleigh number. We hypothesize a new criterion for the onset of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets: that damage must reduce the viscosity of shear zones in the lithosphere to a critical value equivalent to the underlying mantle viscosity; 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. We scale our 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 conditions are found to be 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.

  7. The conditions for plate tectonics on super-Earths: Inferences from convection models with damage

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, Bradford J.; Bercovici, David; Landuyt, William

    2012-05-01

    Numerical simulations of mantle convection with a damage-grainsize feedback are used to develop scaling laws for predicting conditions at which super-Earths would have plate tectonics. In particular, the numerical simulations are used to determine how large a viscosity ratio between pristine lithosphere and mantle (?l/?m) can be offset by damage to allow mobile (plate-like) convection. Regime diagrams of ?l/?m versus the damage number (D) show that the transition from stagnant lid to mobile convection occurs for higher ?l/?m as D increases; a similar trend occurs for increasing Rayleigh number. We hypothesize a new criterion for the onset of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets: that damage must reduce the viscosity of shear zones in the lithosphere to a critical value equivalent to the underlying mantle viscosity; 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. We scale our 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 conditions are found to be 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.

  8. Initiation of plate tectonics from post-magma ocean thermo-chemical convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, B. J.; Bercovici, D. A.

    2013-12-01

    We investigate the initiation of plate tectonics on Earth from scaling laws for plate tectonic style convection with grain-damage, and from numerical models of mantle convection immediately after magma ocean solidification. Using scaling laws for convection with grain-damage we constrain the likelihood of plate tectonics on the early Earth. Both mantle temperature and surface temperature play key roles in how plate speed and heat flow scale, and thus whether plate tectonics would be likely on the early Earth. Specifically either high mantle temperatures or high surface temperatures decrease plate speed because grain-growth (or healing) increases in lithospheric shear zones, causing viscosity to go up in these regions. When applied to the early Earth, we find that while higher mantle temperatures decrease plate speed, it is not enough to shut off plate tectonics; plate speed only decreases by a factor of 2 going from the present day to Hadean mantle temperatures. Surface temperature has a bigger influence as it more directly controls the temperature in lithospheric shear zones; at a Venusian surface temperature plate tectonics can be effectively shut off. Earth's surface temperature in the Hadean is unknown, however, given that Hadean zircons show evidence for liquid water, the surface temperature was lower than that of present day Venus. Even under hot greenhouse conditions plate speeds on the order of 1 cm/yr could exist in the Hadean. Therefore early Earth conditions were favorable for plate tectonics, even with a higher surface temperature, although Hadean plate tectonics would be sluggish (slower plate speed and thicker lithosphere) compared to the present day. We perform numerical convection experiments to constrain the timescales over which plate tectonics would initiate in the early Earth, starting from post-magma ocean conditions. Rapid solidification of the magma ocean leaves behind a solid mantle with a temperature profile following the solidus. There is also the possibility of chemical differentiation which would lead to an initially unstable compositional density profile in the newly solidified mantle. We thus perform numerical models with an initially unstable temperature profile (approximating the silicate solidus) both with and without an initially unstable compositional density profile. All models show an initial overturn beneath a stagnant lid, followed by stagnant lid convection and the eventual onset of plate tectonic style convection. The timescale for initiating plate tectonics depends on the Rayleigh number, parameters for healing and damage, and on the degree of chemical differentiation during magma ocean solidification. Similar to the results of the scaling analysis, higher surface temperature retards the initiation of plate tectonics, due to the effects of lithospheric healing. Compositional buoyancy significantly reduces the timescale for initiating plate tectonics due to the increased negative buoyancy of the lithosphere (i.e. including both thermal and chemical buoyancy). Thus chemical differentiation during magma ocean solidification provides a significant boost to initiating plate tectonics in the Hadean Earth.

  9. Global pattern of earthquakes and seismic energy distributions: Insights for the mechanisms of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Varga, P.; Krumm, F.; Riguzzi, F.; Doglioni, C.; Sle, B.; Wang, K.; Panza, G. F.

    2012-03-01

    In this paper, we analyse the distributions of number of events (N) and seismic energy (E) on the Earth's surface and along its radius as obtained from the global declustered catalogue of large independent events (M ? 7.0), dissipating about 95% of the Earth's elastic budget. The latitude distribution of the seismic event density is almost symmetric with respect to the equator and the seismic energy flux distribution is bimodal; both have their medians near the equator so that they are equally distributed in the two hemispheres. This symmetry with respect to the equator suggests that the Earth's rotational dynamics contributes to modulate the long-term tectonic processes. The distributions of number and energy of earthquakes versus depth are not uniform as well: 76% of the total earthquakes dissipates about 60% of the total energy in the first ~ 50 km; only 6% of events dissipates about 20% of the total amount of energy in a narrow depth interval, at the lower boundary of the upper mantle (550-680 km). Therefore, only the remaining 20% of energy is released along most of the depth extent of subduction zones (50-550 km). Since the energetic release along slabs is a minor fraction of the total seismic budget, the role of the slab pull appears as ancillary, if any, in driving plate tectonics. Moreover the concentration of seismic release in the not yet subducted lithosphere suggests that the force moving the plates acts on the uppermost lithosphere and contemporaneously all over the Earth's outer shell, again supporting a rotational/tidal modulation.

  10. 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 complexes, but also the relatively recent motion along the Cayman Fault zone (Miocene instead of Eocene). These results are part of a cooperative research-industry programm conducted by CEREGE/EGERIE, Aix-en-Provence and GeoAzur, Nice, with Frontier Basin study group, TOTAL S.A., Paris.

  11. [Comment on Plate tectonics: Scientific revolution or scientific program? by Jean-Claude Mareschal] Development of plate tectonics theory: The missing piece

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Doe, Bruce R.

    The recent article by Jean-Claude Mareschal (Plate Tectonics: Scientific Revolution or Scientific Program? in Eos, May 19, 1987, p. 529) adds to the interesting literature on the evolution of the theory of plate tectonics. It is curious that an aspect of the general theory that seems to be little considered and mentioned by Mareschal or others who write about the history of development of the theory, but that was vitally important in my own acceptance of the theory, was the discovery of subduction and, to a lesser extent, abduction.

  12. 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)

  13. Reconstructing plate motion paths where plate tectonics doesn't strictly apply

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Handy, M. R.; Ustaszewski, K.

    2012-04-01

    The classical approach to reconstructing plate motion invokes the assumption that plates are rigid and therefore that their motions can be described as Eulerian rotations on a spherical Earth. This essentially two-dimensional, map view of plate motion is generally valid for large-scale systems, but is not practicable for small-scale tectonic systems in which plates, or significant parts thereof, deform on time scales approaching the duration of their motion. Such "unplate-like" (non-rigid) behaviour is common in systems with a weak lithosphere, for example, in Mediterranean-type settings where (micro-)plates undergo distributed deformation several tens to hundreds of km away from their boundaries. The motion vector of such anomalous plates can be quantified by combining and comparing information from two independent sources: (1) Balanced cross sections that are arrayed across deformed zones (orogens, basins) and provide estimates of crustal shortening and/or extension. Plate motion is then derived by retrodeforming the balanced sections in a stepwise fashion from external to internal parts of mountain belts, then applying these estimates as successive retrotranslations of points on stable parts of the upper plate with respect to a chosen reference frame on the lower plate. This approach is contingent on using structural markers with tight age constraints, for example, depth-sensitive metamorphic mineral parageneses and syn-orogenic sediments with known paleogeographic provenance; (2) Geophysical images of 3D subcrustal structure, especially of the MOHO and the lithospheric mantle in the vicinity of the deformed zones. In the latter case, travel-time seismic tomography of velocity anomalies can be used to identify subducted lithospheric slabs that extend downwards from the zones of crustal shortening to the mantle transitional zone and beyond. Synthesizing information from these two sources yields plate motion paths whose validity can be tested by the degree of consistency between crustal shortening estimates and the amount of subducted lithosphere imaged at depth. This approach has several limitations: (1) shortening values in mountain belts are usually minimum estimates due to the erosion of deformational fronts and out-of-sequence thrusting that obscure or even eliminate zones of shortening. Also, subduction may occur without accretion of material to the upper plate; (2) sedimentary ages are often loosely bracketed and only high-retentivity isotopic systems yield ages near the age of mineral formation in metamorphic rocks; (3) images of seismic velocity anomalies are highly model-dependent and the anomalies themselves may have been partly lost to thermal erosion, especially in areas that have experienced heating, for example, beneath extensional basins. Thus, only a few orogens studied so far (e.g., the circum-Mediterreanean belts) have the density of geological and geophysical data needed to constrain the translation of a sufficient number of reference points to obtain a reliable plate-motion vector. Nevertheless, this approach complements established methods for determining plate motion (plate-circuits using paleomagnetic information, ocean-floor magnetic lineaments) and provides a viable alternative where such paleomagnetic information is sparse or lacking.

  14. 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 the world. It is noted that in one of the opposite meridian there was a correlation between the vernal point and the indo-australian plate.

  15. 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 Michoacn 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 Michoacn 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.

  16. Speculations on the Mesozoic Plate Tectonic Evolution of Eastern China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Klimetz, Michael P.

    1983-04-01

    Several orogenic belts transecting eastern China are the sites of former convergent plate margins, although there have been varying views on the collisional framework of individual continental blocks, styles of convergence at these zones, and the timing of respective collisions. A tectonic study of eastern China, Mongolia and the southern Soviet Far East indicates the collision of the South China Block with a combined North China-Northeast China Fold Zone Block in the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic, their collective suturing to Eurasia in the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous, followed by the Sikhote Alin-Japan Block in the Mid to Late Cretaceous. The evidence is as follows: (1) A linear belt of Late Triassic-Early Cretaceous granites and granodiorites trends east from the Qinlingshan through the Dabieshan to the Huaiyang massif. Ophiolites, flysch, subduction zone mélange, a paired metamorphic belt indicating north dipping subduction and marine strata of Carboniferous to Late Triassic age from the Qinlingshan define the suture between the North and South China Blocks, (2) A sinuous belt of ultramafics, blueschists, silicic to intermediate magmatism and west and north vergent folds and thrusts trend from the west margin of the Ordos Basin through central Inner Mongolia and along the east Great Khingan Range to the Amur River. Coupled with a Mid Jurassic-Early Creataceous unconformity a suturing of eastern Chinese blocks to Eurasia along this zone is suggested, (3) A fold and thrust belt with ultramafics, flysch, blueschists and subduction zone mélange along the Ussuri River in northeast China indicates the suturing of the Sikhote Alin-Japan Block to Eurasia along a west dipping subduction zone in the Mid to Late Cretaceous. Similarly, a tectonic study of southern China and Southeast Asia has revealed a complex regional mosaic of suture-bounded terrains which nucleated about the eastern, western and southern margins of the Yangtze Craton during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The evidence is as follows: (4) A north-south trending belt of ophiolites, blueschists, calc-alkaline volcanics and subduction zone mélange, including granites, granodiorites and strongly deformed marine strata all of Late Triassic age exposed in the Longmenshan of Sichuan merge with the Kekexilishan ophiolite zone into the Ailaoshan-Tengtiaohe ophiolite and blueschist belt in central Yunnan along which the Songban-Ganzi Complex and the Shan-Thai-Malaya Block join the Craton, and (5) A southeastern prolongation of the Ailaoshan-Tengtiaohe belt bifurcates into the southeast trending Konvoi zone of northern Vietnam and the north-south trending Pak Lay-Luang Prabang zone of Laos and eastern Thailand. Zones of ophiolite, calc-alkaline volcanics and strong Late Triassic deformation, they separate the Indosinia and Shan-Thai-Malaya Blocks from the Craton respectively. These findings differ significantly from previous interpretations of a Late Paleozoic consolidation of South-Eastern Asia as well as disputing the existence of a true Pangea.

  17. 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.

  18. The Arctic Eurekan Orogen : A plate tectonic conundrum

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guest, B.; Hill, M.; Beauchamp, B.

    2011-12-01

    The Eurekan orogen is a fold and thrust belt that extends from West Spitsbergen across northernmost Greenland and into Ellesmere Island and the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The favored mechanisms for generating this orogenic belt are: 1. Counterclockwise rotation of Greenland; subduction and collision between Greenland and Ellesmere Island along Nares Straight and transpression between Greenland and Spritbergen along Fram Straight. 2. Wedge-like northward indentation of Greenland into Spitsbergen and Ellesmere island driven by seafloor spreading to the southeast and southwest, and accommodated along the dextral Spitsbergen transform to the northeast and the Wegener transform to the northwest. Both of these models have problems. The widely accepted rotation and collision model requires that Nares Straight is the final remnant of a former oceanic trough and that enough old, cold oceanic crust was present so as to initiate foundering of the oceanic lithosphere and negative buoyancy driven rotation and collision between Greenland (lower plate) and Ellesmere Island. However, evidence of an accretionary complex, clear collisional suture or a subduction-related volcanic edifice are lacking. The second, Greenland indentor, model lacks a viable source of potential energy. Contractional deformation of continental crust is usually associated with continental collision which is a process driven by the subduction of oceanic crust attached to or surrounding a continent (the potential energy of a sinking oceanic slab is converted into the kinetic energy of collision). Calling on "ridge push" to induce continental deformation and uplift is problematic because the ridge lacks the potential energy required to deform high standing continental crust. Further, the extensional stresses at ridges are significantly lower than the stresses required to break rocks in compression so it is hard to envision a scenario whereby ridge push could have much effect. Adding to the troubles of the above models are geological and geophysical observations from southern Nares Straight where a clear "linchpin" has been driven into the Smith Sound region. Here the geology of western Greenland can be clearly linked to Ellesmere Island on the west side of the sound. The Smith Sound Linchpin effectively requires that southeastern Ellesmere Island is attached to Greenland, thereby pushing any suture between Greenland and Ellesmere Island off to the west, into the interior of the Island. This linchpin is used as evidence to argue that the Wegener transform, commonly drawn through Smith Sound, does not exist. Our new work in the northern interior of Ellesmere Island is in part focused on developing a revised model to explain the presence of the Eurekan orogenic belt and its latest Cretaceous to Paleogene evolution. A key observation from our recent fieldwork is that many of the large E-W striking faults previously mapped as normal faults or thrust faults are in fact dextral strike slip or dextral oblique reverse faults. These findings suggest that the Eurekan Orogen may be a transpressional belt rather than a classical fold and thrust belt. Clarifying the internal kinematics of the belt may help resolve some of the large-scale plate tectonic questions

  19. 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)

  20. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lourenço, Diogo; Tackley, Paul

    2013-04-01

    In 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 (e.g. Armann and Tackley, JGR 2012). In recent years a number of studies have focused on the feasibility of plate tectonics on large (1-10 Earth masses) extra-solar terrestrial planets; so-called super-Earths, with some studies concluding that these bodies should be in a mobile-regime mode (Valencia et al., ApJ 2007; van Heck and Tackley, EPSL 2011), but others predicting that they should be in a stagnant-lid regime (O'Neill and Leonardic, GRL 2007; Stein et al., GRL 2011). 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 ~2, while Armann and Tackley (JGR, 2012) found that bursts of crustal production caused by partial melting my trigger lithospheric overturn events, suggesting that laterally-heterogeneous crustal production in earlier studies (e.g. papers by Nakagawa and Tackley) may also play an important role in facilitating plate tectonics. Complicating matters is the finding that the final state of the system (stagnant- or mobile-lid) can depend on 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, leading to Lenardic and Crowley (ApJ, 2012) proposing a bistability of the system, introducing bifurcation theory to predict the tectonic state of a planet. Here we thus test (i) whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour as a function of governing parameters (particularly Rayleigh number and viscosity contrast (Moresi and Solomatov, GJI 1998) as well as internal heating rate), and (ii) whether, under these conditions, there is an initial-condition dependence (bimodality) to the state of the system Weller and Lenardic (GRL, 2012). We study these using StagYY (Tackley, PEPI 2008), which uses a finite-volume scheme for advection of temperature, a multigrid solver to obtain a velocity-pressure solution at each timestep, tracers to track composition, and a treatment of partial melting and crustal formation.

  2. The Role of the Mantle on Structural Reactivation at the Plate Tectonics Scale (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vauchez, A. R.; Tommasi, A.

    2009-12-01

    During orogeny, rifting, and in major strike-slip faults, the lithospheric mantle undergoes solid-state flow to accommodate the imposed strain. This deformation occurs mostly through crystal plasticity processes, like dislocation creep, and results in the development of a crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) of olivine and pyroxene. Because these minerals, especially olivine, display strongly anisotropic physical properties, their preferred orientation confers anisotropic properties at the scale of the rock. When the deformation event comes to its end, the CPO are "frozen" and remain stable for millions or even billions years if no other deformation subsequently affects the lithospheric mantle. This means that anisotropic properties preserving a memory of previous deformation events may subsist in the continental mantle over very long periods of time. One of the main consequences of a well-developed olivine CPO is an anisotropic mantle viscosity and hence a deformation dependant on the orientation of the tectonic solicitations relative to the orientation of the olivine CPO inherited from the past orogenic events. The most obvious expression of this anisotropic mechanical behaviour is the influence of the inherited tectonic fabric on continental rifting. Most continental rifts that lead to successful continental breakup, like in the early Atlantic or the western Indian systems, formed parallel to ancient collisional belts. Moreover, the early stages of deformation in these systems are characterized by a transtensional strain regime involving a large component of strike-slip shearing parallel to the inherited fabric. The link between the lithospheric mantle fabric and the rift structure is further supported by seismic anisotropy measurements in major rifts (e.g., the East-African Rift) or at passive continental margins (e.g., the Atlantic Ocean) that show fast split S-waves polarized in a direction parallel to both the inherited fabric and the trend of the rift, and by the analysis of the CPO in mantle xenoliths collected in such areas. These observations are consistent with recent multi-scale numerical models showing that olivine CPO frozen in the lithospheric mantle result in an anisotropic mechanical behaviour. In a plate submitted to extension, CPO-induced anisotropy favours the reactivation in transtension of lithospheric-scale strike slip faults that are oblique to the imposed tensional stresses. Further investigation is needed to constrain the role of an inherited mechanical anisotropy of the lithosphere during compressional events and the possible feedbacks between an anisotropic viscous deformation of the lithospheric mantle and the seismic cycle. In both cases, crust-mantle coupling is likely for large-scale structures and mantle CPO may influence the kinematics of tectonic systems, at least during the initial stages of their evolution.

  3. 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 hypotheses exist for the formation of the North American Cordillera; including the accretion of a series of allochthonous and parautochthonous terranes to ancestral North America in a prolonged orogeny, the formation of a ribbon continent in the Panthalassa Ocean which eventually accreted to North America or the accretion of two superterranes migrating northwards from significantly south of their present day position. To some degree, Russian Arctic tectonics mirrors the North American counterpart, with the Arctic Alaska and Chukotka terranes thought to be of similar or contiguous origin. The Verkhoyansk fold and thrust belt is formed during the collision of a micro-continent with the Siberian Craton and a series of arcs and back arcs accrete on the Pacific side of the craton. We demonstrate the construction of the plate model using the techniques described above to assess the validity of hypotheses and the origin of exotic Arctic terranes.

  4. 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 Solomon -- Vitiaz (Melanesian) Trench, which was aligned parallel to the post 43 Ma Pacific APM. Subduction was heralded by metamorphic events in the Solomon Islands' Florida Group and Eastern Belt Islands that occurred between ~44 and ~35 Ma (Neef and McDougal, 1976), after which the earliest Lemau Intrusives were emplaced between 38 and 32 Ma in New Ireland (Stewart and Sandy, 1988) near the western end of the Melanesian Arc. To the southwest, on the Australia Plate, the Louisiade Plateau also formed over the Lord Howe Hotspot about 43 Ma as a concomitant change in Australia APM also occurred.

  5. Subduction and Plate Edge Tectonics in the Southern Caribbean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Levander, A.; Schmitz, M.; Niu, F.; Bezada, M. J.; Miller, M. S.; Masy, J.; Ave Lallemant, H. G.; Pindell, J. L.

    2012-12-01

    The southern Caribbean plate boundary consists of a subduction zone at at either end connected by a strike-slip fault system: In the east at the Lesser Antilles subduction zone, the Atlantic part of the South American plate subducts beneath the Caribbean. In the north and west in the Colombia basin, the Caribbean subducts under South America. In a manner of speaking, the two plates subduct beneath each other. Finite-frequency teleseismic P-wave tomography confirms this, imaging the Atlantic and the Caribbean subducting steeply in opposite directions to transition zone depths under northern South America (Bezada et al, 2010). The two subduction zones are connected by the El Pilar-San Sebastian strike-slip fault system, a San Andreas scale system that has been cut off at the Bocono fault, the southeastern boundary of the Maracaibo block. A variety of seismic probes identify where the two plates tear as they begin to subduct (Niu et al, 2007; Clark et al., 2008; Miller et al. 2009; Growdon et al., 2009; Huang et al., 2010; Masy et al., 2011). The El Pilar system forms at the southeastern corner of the Antilles subduction zone with the Atlantic plate tearing from South America. The deforming plate edges control mountain building and basin formation at the eastern end of the strike-slip system. In northwestern South America the Caribbean plate very likely also tears, as its southernmost element subducts at shallow angles under northernmost Colombia and the northern, nonsubducting part underthrusts the continental edge. The subducting segment rapidly descends to transition zone depths under Lake Maracaibo (Bezada et al., 2010). We believe that the flat slab produces the Merida Andes, the Perija, and the Santa Marta ranges. The nonsubducting part of the Caribbean plate underthrusts northern Venezuela to about the width of the coastal mountains (Miller et al., 2009), where the plate edge supports the coastal mountains, and controls continuing deformation.

  6. Plate tectonics on super-Earths: Equally or more likely than on Earth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2011-10-01

    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 active plate tectonics like on Earth, or be stagnant lids like on Mars and Venus. The origin of plate tectonics is poorly understood for Earth, likely involving a complex interplay of rheological, compositional, melting and thermal effects, which makes it challenging 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 Byerlee's law dependence on pressure. Because the simplifying assumptions made in developing analytical scalings may not be valid over all parameter ranges, numerical simulations are needed; one numerical study on super-Earths finds that plate tectonics is less likely on a larger planet (O'Neill and Lenardic (2007)), in apparent contradiction of an analytical scaling study (Valencia et al. (2007)). To try and understand this we here present new calculations of yielding-induced plate tectonics as a function of planet size, focusing on the idealized end members of internal heating or basal heating as well as different strength profiles, and compared to analytical scalings. In the present study we model super-Earths as simple scaled up versions of Earth, i.e., assuming constant physical properties, keeping the ratio of core/mantle radii constant and applying the same temperature difference between top/bottom boundaries and the same internal heating rate. Effects that originate outside of the planet, such as tidal forces, meteor impacts and intense surface heating from a nearby star are not considered. We find that for internally-heated convection plate tectonics is equally likely for terrestrial planets of any size, whereas for basally-heated convection plate tectonics becomes more likely with increasing planet size. This is indicated both by analytical scalings and the presented numerical results, which agree with each other. When scalings are adjusted to account for increasing mean density with increasing planet size, plate tectonics becomes more likely with increasing planet size for all scenarios. The influence of the pressure variation of viscosity, thermal expansivity and conductivity may, however, act in the opposite sense and needs to be determined in future studies. At least in the simplest case, factors other than planet size, such as the presence of surface water, are likely most important for determining the presence or absence of plate tectonics.

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 

  9. 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.

  10. Three-Dimensional Variations in Tectonic Stress Along a Complex Plate Boundary: Australia-Pacific Plate Interaction in Central New Zealand

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Townend, J.; Sherburn, S.; Arnold, R.

    2011-12-01

    In recent years, a number of regional seismological studies have determined the present-day principal tectonic stress directions at points along the Australia-Pacific plate boundary in central New Zealand. To date, however, there has not been a broader-scale study of tectonic stress that capitalises on high-quality seismological data recorded by the GeoNet monitoring system. In this study, we have computed tectonic stress parameters throughout central New Zealand (latitudes 38-43S) using a data set of almost 3500 earthquake focal mechanisms recorded by GeoNet between January 2004 and February 2011. Each earthquake has been relocated using the nationwide 3D seismic velocity model of Eberhart-Phillips et al. (2010, SRL) and the NonLinLoc algorithm of Lomax et al. (2000, Advances in Seismic Event Location). The estimated uncertainties in each hypocenter are propagated into the focal mechanism calculations, and thereby into the stress parameter estimates using Bayesian algorithms (Arnold & Townend, 2007, GJI; Walsh et al., 2009, GJI). In most regional or broader-scale studies of tectonic stress it is common to compute the azimuth of maximum horizontal compressive stress, SHmax. Here we describe a method of representing the stresses acting on dipping structures, notably the Hikurangi subduction thrust beneath the North Island, and on arbitrarily oriented cross-sections.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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…

  19. 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…

  20. Aligned buoyant highs, across-trench deformation, clustered volcanoes, and deep earthquakes are not aligned with plate-tectonic theory

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smoot, N. Christian

    1997-03-01

    Bathymetry shows the regional interaction of aseismic, buoyant highs in northern Pacific subduction zones. Seamounts, ridges, and fractures on the seaward side of the trench are associated with events that do not support the accepted plate-tectonics paradigm, including an altered slab dip angle (Benioff zone) and the clustered volcanoes and earthquakes within the convergent margin. Most of the examples in this study show a reduction in the number of total earthquakes but an increase in the deeper earthquakes, an abnormal amount of across-trench deformation, and a larger amount of volcanism on the active arc than if no bouyant highs existed in the subduction zone. The connections between the seaward highs and the landward clustered highs are the transverse faults, which widen by turbidite scour as they age. Forearc canyons are the modern-day bathymetdc expression of these faults. All of the parameters introduced disagree with the plate-tectonic hypothesis, making an alternate explanation for the genesis necessary. That explanation falls into the realm of the surge-tectonic hypothesis, which can explain by fluid mechanics and eastward flow each of the introduced parameters.

  1. The nature of ``small-scale'' convection in the presence of plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Korenaga, J.; Jordan, T. H.

    2001-12-01

    A systematic numerical study is presented on the dynamics of so-called small-scale convection modulated by large-scale plate-tectonic flow. With the currently estimated range of activation energy for temperature-dependent mantle rheology, an unstable thermal boundary layer can develop beneath a plate, leading to the generation of small-scale convection. If this second mode of mantle convection exists, first-order energetics predicts that the strength of such secondary convection is comparable with the overlying plate motion. Because of its coupling with plate-tectonic flow, vigorous small-scale convection is expected to show rich dynamical behaviors, and its proper understanding should help to define the normal state of multi-scale mantle dynamics in the presence of plate tectonics. In order to characterize the possible temporal and spatial scales of this secondary convection as well as its convective planform, we first derive basic scaling laws for (1) onset of convection, (2) stability of longitudinal rolls (or Richter rolls), and (3) breakdown of endothermic phase boundary, on the basis of 2-D numerical solutions. A whole-mantle convection model with a single plate is then investigated using 2-D and 3-D single-mode calculations, to test predictions from these scaling laws. Our results show that the effect of three dimensionality, i.e., the generation and stability of Richter rolls, is significant in controlling the overall structure of secondary convection. Furthermore, vertical mass flux associated with secondary convection is shown to be comparable to that with plate-tectonic flow, indicating the significance of secondary convection in whole-mantle material circulation.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Seismicity and tectonics of the subducted Cocos Plate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Burbach, George Vanness; Frohlich, Cliff; Pennington, Wayne D.; Matumoto, Tosimatu

    1984-09-01

    We have examined teleseismic earthquake locations reported by the International Seismological Centre (ISC) for the Middle America region and selected 220 as the most reliable. These hypocenters and other data are used to delineate the deep structure of the subducted Cocos Plate. The results indicate that the subducted plate consists of three major segments: Segment I extends from the Panama Fracture Zone to the Nicoya Peninsula. The structure of this segment is poorly defined. Segment II is the largest and best-defined segment. This segment consists of two parts, IIA and IIB. Part IIA extends from the Nicoya Peninsula to western Guatemala and is very well defined and continuous in structure. Its strike follows the curvature of the trench and dips at about 60°. Part IIB extends from western Guatemala to Orizaba, Mexico. The dip of this part of the segment decreases slightly toward the northwest, and its strike is more northward than that of the trench. Segment III extends from Orizaba to the Rivera Fracture Zone, and is not well defined due to a lack of earthquake activity beneath about 100 km. Its orientation differs markedly from segment II and strikes somewhat more westward than the trench. Between parts IIA and IIB of segment II the subducted plate seems to be continuous, bending smoothly to accommodate the change in geometry. Local network data from Costa Rica suggest there may be a tear between segments I and II. Between segments II and III there is a gap in the hypocenters which makes it difficult to define the boundary. The change in geometry between these two segments indicates that there may be a tear, and two strike-slip focal mechanisms in the region support this conclusion. We find no convincing evidence supporting the existence of segments smaller than the three described above. If there is smaller-scale segmentation in the shallow part of the subducting plate the plate must still maintain enough continuity to appear continuous at greater depths. There is no evidence for any major tear in the subducted plate associated directly with either the Tehuantepec Ridge or the Orozco Fracture zone. The shallow subduction at the northwestern end of segment II may be related to the bouyancy of the Tehuantepec Ridge. The Cocos Ridge is probably directly responsible for the change in geometry between segments I and II and may even be slowing or stopping subduction in segment I. The structure of the subducted plate in segment II and the changes in the character of volcanism along the arc can be related to the relative motion of the North American and Caribbean Plates. The present geometry of part IIB of segment II is more consistent with the probable configuration of the trench about 7 Ma ago than with the present configuration, indicating that the North American plate is overriding the subduction zone. Appendices 2, 3, and 4 are available with entire article on microfiche. Order from American Geophysical Union, 2000 Florida Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Document B84-009; $2.50.

  5. Nubia-Arabia-Eurasia Plate Motions and the Dynamics of Mediterranean and Middle East Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Reilinger, R. E.; Mcclusky, S.

    2011-12-01

    We use geodetic and plate tectonic observations to constrain the tectonic evolution of the Nubia-Arabia-Eurasia plate system. Two phases of slowing of Nubia-Eurasia convergence, each of which resulted in an ~ 50% decrease in the rate of convergence, coincided with the initiation of Nubia-Arabia continental rifting along the Red Sea and Somalia-Arabia rifting along the Gulf of Aden at 24 4 Ma, and the initiation of oceanic rifting along the full extent of the Gulf of Aden at 11 2 Ma. In addition, both the northern and southern Red Sea (Nubia-Arabia plate boundary) underwent changes in the configuration of extension at 11 2 Ma, including the transfer of extension from the Suez Rift to the Gulf of Aqaba/Dead Sea fault system in the north, and from the central Red Sea basin (Bab al Mandab) to the Afar volcanic zone in the south. While Nubia-Eurasia convergence slowed, the rate of Arabia - Eurasia convergence remained constant within the resolution of our observations, and is indistinguishable from the present-day GPS rate. The timing of the initial slowing of Nubia-Eurasia convergence (24 4 Ma) corresponds to the initiation of extensional tectonics in the Mediterranean Basin, and the second phase of slowing to changes in the character of Mediterranean extension reported at ~ 11 Ma. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that changes in Nubia-Eurasia convergence, and associated Nubia-Arabia divergence, are the fundamental cause of both Mediterranean and Middle East post-Late Oligocene tectonics. We speculate about the implications of these kinematic relationships for the dynamics of Nubia-Arabia-Eurasia plate interactions, and favor the interpretation that slowing of Nubia-Eurasia convergence, and the resulting tectonic changes in the Mediterranean Basin and Middle East, resulted from a decrease in slab pull from the AR subducted lithosphere across the Nubia-Arabia, evolving plate boundary.

  6. Conditions for the onset of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets and moons

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Neill, C.; Jellinek, A. M.; Lenardic, A.

    2007-09-01

    Plate tectonics on Earth is driven by the subduction and stirring of dense oceanic lithosphere into the underlying mantle. For such a regime to exist on any planet, stresses associated with mantle convection must exceed the strength of the lithosphere. This condition is sufficiently restrictive that plate tectonics currently operates only on Earth, and mantle convection in most terrestrial planets and moons is probably in a stagnant lid regime. Convective stresses on the lithosphere depend on the viscosity and velocity of underlying cold downwellings. The lithospheric yield stress is controlled by its friction coefficient and elastic thickness (the depth to the brittle-ductile transition or BDT). Both convective stresses and the plate's yield strength depend critically on the size, thermal state and cooling history of a planet. Accordingly, here we use numerical simulations and scaling theory to identify conditions in which mantle convection leads to lithospheric failure for a range of conditions relevant to the terrestrial planets. Whereas Earth is expected to be in a plate-tectonic regime over its full thermal evolution, the Moon and Mercury are expected to have always remained in a stagnant lid regime. Venus, Io and Europa currently fall on the transition between the two regimes, which is consistent with an episodic style of mantle convection for Venus, a tectonic component to deformation on Io, and the resurfacing history and lithospheric evolution of Europa. Our results suggest that Venus may have been in a plate-tectonic regime in the past. While stagnant now, it is plausible that Mars may have also been in an active-lid regime, depending on whether there was liquid water on the surface.

  7. Plate Tectonics and the Long-Term Global Water Cycle of Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baker, V. R.; Maruyama, S.; Dohm, J. M.

    2001-12-01

    The surface environment of the Earth has been largely controlled by plate tectonics and superplume activity since plate tectonics started ca. 4.0 Ga. We propose that the Mars surface environment was also strongly affected by plate tectonics in the Noachian, but subsequently the Tharsis superplume played the key role for the surface environment. The mantle-controlled surface environment would have been drastically changed after plate tectonics stopped at the end of the Noachian. Mars presently lies near the outer end of habitable zone of the solar system. The stability of liquid water on Mars has been critical not only for the evolution of life, but also for the planetary resurfacing process. In spite of the faint young sun, a wide and deep sea may have been stable in the Early Noachian Epoch, and an atmosphere rich in CO2 and SO2 present. We predict fate of carbonates and sulfates which may have been precipitated in the Noachian sea, based on Archean examples on the Earth. At Archean divergent plate boundaries, extensive hydrothermal systems operated to sink carbonate (dolomite-calcite) and sulfate (barite) in the upper 400m of oceanic crust and its cover. These moved horizontally to migrate to oceanic trenches, where they are subducted into the deeper mantle. Carbonate is strongly resistant and stable even at high geothermal gradients in the Archean, whereas most hydrous minerals are not stable. The breakdown of water must have occurred above 70 km depth. This caused a rapid decrease of XCO2 and XSO2 in the atmosphere and ocean, thereby producing a frozen surface on Mars. Volcanic fields at plate boundaries would have served as excellent areas for life. In the Late Noachian, surface water would have decreased in amount because of return-flow of seawater into mantle. As a result, the mantle transition zone from 1280 to 1800km would have become a potential water reservoir with time. Mars' mantle must have been locally hydrated from surface to the near bottom of mantle by the Late Noachian. From this hydrated mantle, the Tharsis superplume was born after cessation of plate tectonics. This was a critical time for the global material circulation on Mars. Since then, the Tharsis superplume has been the prime agent to transport mantle CO2 and water to the surface. Episodic activity of the superplume was responsible for short periods of climate change, surface water phenomena, and recent volcanism. Key words: Mars, plate tectonics, C-S cycle, glaciation, life

  8. Plate Tectonics as a Far-From-Equilibrium Self-Organized Dissipative System

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Anderson, D. L.

    2001-12-01

    A fluid above the critical Rayleigh number is far from equilibrium and spontaneously organizes itself into patterns involving the collective motion of large numbers of molecules which are resisted by the viscosity of the fluid. No external template is involved in forming the pattern. In 1928 Pearson showed that Bnard's experiments were driven by variations in surface tension at the top of the fluid and the surface motions drove convection in the fluid. In this case, the surface organized itself AND the underlying fluid. Both internal buoyancy driven flow and flow driven by surface forces can be far-from-equilibrium self-organized open systems that receive energy and matter from the environment. In the Earth, the cold thermal boundary layer at the surface drives plate tectonics and introduces temperature, shear and pressure gradients into the mantle that drive mantle convection. The mantle provides energy and material but may not provide the template. Plate tectonics is therefore a candidate for a far-from-equilibrium dissipative self-organizing system. Alternatively, one could view mantle convection as the self-organized system and the plates as simply the surface manifestation. Lithospheric architecture also imposes lateral temperature gradients onto the mantle which can drive and organize flow. Far-from-equilibrium self-organization requires; an open system, interacting parts, nonlinearities or feedbacks, an outside steady source of energy or matter, multiple possible states and a source of dissipation. In uniform fluids viscosity is the source of dissipation. Sources of dissipation in the plate system include bending, breaking, folding, shearing, tearing, collision and basal drag. These can change rapidly, in contrast to plate driving forces, and introduce the sort of fluctuations that can reorganize far-from-equilibrium systems. Global plate reorganizations can alternatively be thought of as convective overturns of the mantle, or thermal weakening of plates or the asthenosphere by hot upwellings. The study of soft matter, bubble rafts, foam, fragile systems, force bridges and jamming may give insights into the physics of plate tectonics. For example, plates might be defined as "force bridges" that carry lateral compression, but dissolve and reform if the stress system changes. In the plate tectonic problem it is not clear what, if anything, is being minimized. Is it dissipation, or toroidal energy or something else? This session should stimulate new ways of thinking about plates, plate boundaries and lithospheric rheology.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. Earth's tectonic history revisited in the light of episodic misfits between plate network and mantle convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ricou, Luc-Emmanuel

    2004-06-01

    Episodic plate reorganisations abruptly change plate boundary configurations. To illustrate their role, we review the plate reorganisations that appear in the present-day oceans and in the reconstructed Tethys ocean. These time periods cover the dispersal of the Pangea super-continent and the collisions with Eurasia that foreshadow a new super-continent. Plate reorganisations have played a fundamental role in the tectonic history of the Earth, being responsible for continental break-up and, after oceanic spreading, for continental collisions. As a result, they governed the formation and dispersal of super-continents. We observe a bulk polarity in plate motion that governs continental collision and the opposite bulk polarity in plate reorganisation that governs continental break-up. Such opposite polarities show in the tectonic history that we follow since the 550 Ma formation of the Gondwana super-continent. In order to decipher the rules that govern plate reorganisation, we investigate the distribution of spreading and subduction that derives from the current plate motion. We observe a mismatch between the evolution tendency of the plate boundary network and convection in the deep mantle. The actual network of plate boundaries illustrates a compromise between the two. Based on the opposite polarities in plate motion and plate reorganisation, we propose that this compromise is maintained by plate reorganisations that counterbalance free evolution of the network in abruptly changing its boundaries. We propose that plate reorganisations are basically caused by the mismatch between the free evolution of the plate boundary network and the current convection pattern in the deep mantle. Evidence on Proterozoic rifting and continent collisions allows dating the oldest known plate reorganisation around 2 Ga, which is the age of the oldest known super-continent. Based on the geology of the Archean before 3 Ga, mantle convection appears limited under a greenstone cover and different from the current mantle convection. The distribution of the diapiric granitoids that intrude this cover points to a honeycomb convection centred on downwelling sites separated by diffuse upwelling, which fits the theory on the early Earth mantle convection when plates did not cover the globe. We propose that the plate reorganisation regime appeared sometime between 3 and 2 Ga.

  12. Aegean tectonics, a record of slab-overriding plate interactions (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jolivet, L.; Faccenna, C.; Huet, B.; Lecomte, E.; Labrousse, L.; Denle, Y.; Le Pourhiet, L.; Lacombe, O.; Burov, E. B.; Meyer, B.; Suc, J.; Popescu, S.; Moni, P.; Philippon, M.; Gueydan, F.; Brun, J.; Paul, A.; Salan, G.; Armijo, R.

    2010-12-01

    Two opposing visions of the Aegean backarc tectonics implicitly contain contrasting images of the rheological behaviour of the lihosphere, supported by different sets of observations. The propagation of the NAF and extension in the Corinth Rift suggest a strongly localising rheology whereas the formation of MCC in the Cyclades and the Rhodope suggests instead a more viscous behaviour. This paradox was the seminal question addressed by the ANR-EGEO programme (2007-2010) that leads to the following conclusions: (1) The exhumation of the Cycladic MCCs is accommodated by the N-dipping North Cycladic Detachment System (NCDS) that partly reworks the Vardar suture and at the base by a series of thrusts, including the basal contact of the Cycladic Blueschists (CBS) over the Cycladic Basement (CB). The activity of LANF is due to the reactivation of pre-existing discontinuities such as thrusts or earlier detachments and much less to the interaction with granitic plutons. (2) Exhumation in the Cyclades has proceeded in two stages: (a) Eocene syn-orogenic exhumation within the subduction lower/upperplate interface while the post-orogenic Rhodope MCC formed further north, (b) Oligo-Miocene post-orogenic extension in an MCC mode coeval with syn-orogenic exhumation in Crete and the Peloponnese. (3) Both stages were associated with slab retreat, as early as the Eocene with an acceleration at 30-35 Ma. (4) The localisation of the presently active steeply-dipping normal faults on the southern margin of the Corinth Rift may have been preceded by a partial reworking of thrusts and syn-orogenic detachments by shallow-dipping decollements. (5) The localisation of the NAF in the Marmara Sea region and the Northern Aegean Sea is now accurately dated between 5.3 and 5 Ma Ma using the erosion and deposition surfaces that mark the Messinian salinity Crisis and nannofossils ages. (6) The formation of MCCs in the Cyclades resulted in the draining of the low viscosity lower crust from the northern Aegean Sea and led to an easier coupling between upper mantle and upper crust, easing the localisation and propagation of the NAF. (7) A comparison between crustal and mantle finite strain suggests that mantle flow due to slab retreat controls the stretching of the crust. Our model involves progressive slab retreat and mantle flow below the overriding plate inducing the observed succession of tectonic episodes with a progressive localisation of extension due to several slab tearing events. There is no paradox in the tectonic history and rheological behaviour of the Aegean lithosphere but an evolution of the kinematic boundary conditions due to slab deformation at depth.

  13. Plate-tectonic boundary formation by grain-damage and pinning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, David

    2015-04-01

    Shear weakening in the lithosphere is an essential ingredient for understanding how and why plate tectonics is generated from mantle convection on terrestrial planets. I present continued work on a theoretical model for lithospheric shear-localization and plate generation through damage, grain evolution and Zener pinning in two-phase (polycrystalline) lithospheric rocks. Grain size evolves through the competition between coarsening, which drives grain-growth, with damage, which drives grain reduction. The interface between 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 shear-localizing feedback. Moreover, because pinning inhibits grain-growth it promotes shear-zone longevity and plate-boundary inheritance. This theory has been applied recently to the emergence of plate tectonics in the Archean by transient subduction and accumulation of plate boundaries over 1Gyr, as well as to rapid slab detachment and abrupt tectonic changes. New work explores the saturation of interface damage at low interface curvature (e.g., because it is associated with larger grains that take up more of the damage, and/or because interface area is reduced). This effect allows three possible equilibrium grain-sizes for a given stress; a small-grain-size high-shear state in diffusion creep, a large grain-size low shear state in dislocation creep, and an intermediate state (often near the deformation map phase-boundary). The low and high grain-size states are stable, while the intermediate one is unstable. This implies that a material deformed at a given stress can acquire two stable deformation regimes, a low- and high- shear state; these are indicative of plate-like flows, i.e, the coexistence of both slowly deforming plates and rapidly deforming plate boundaries.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Organization of the tectonic plates in the last 200 Myr (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morra, G.; Seton, M.; Quevedo, L. E.; Mller, D.

    2013-12-01

    The present tessellation of the Earth's surface into tectonic plates displays a remarkably regular plate size distribution, described by either one (Sornette and Pisarenko, 2003) or two (Bird, 2003) statistically distinct groups, characterised by large and small plate size. A unique distribution implies a hierarchical structure from the largest to the smallest plate. Alternatively, two distributions indicate distinct evolutionary laws for large and small plates, the first tied to mantle flow, the second determined by a hierarchical fragmentation process. We analyse detailed reconstructions of plate boundaries during the last 200 Myr and find that (i) large and small plates display distinct statistical distributions, (ii) the small plates display little organisational change since 60 Ma and (iii) the large plates oscillate between heterogeneous (200-170 Ma and 65-50 Ma) and homogeneous (120-100 Ma) plate tessellations on a timescale of about 100 Myr. Heterogeneous states are reached more rapidly, while the plate configuration decays into homogeneous states following a slower asymptotic curve, suggesting that heterogeneous configurations are excited states while homogeneous tessellations are equilibrium states. We explain this evolution by proposing a model that alternates between bottom- and top-driven Earth dynamics, physically described by fluid-dynamic analogies, the Rayleigh-Benard and Bnard-Marangoni convection, respectively. We discuss the implications for true polar wander (TPW), global kinematic reorganisations (50 and 100 Ma) and the Earth's magnetic field inversion frequency. Earth's present tessellation: grey scale proportional to the logarithm of plate size. Plot: logarithm of complementary 'cumulative plate count' (Y-axis) vs. the logarithm of the plate size (X-axis). Time evolution of the 'standard deviation' of the plate size every one million years.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Giant impacts and the initiation of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ruiz, Javier

    2011-06-01

    Earth is the only terrestrial planet with present-day lithosphere recycling through plate tectonics. However, theoretical models of mantle convection based on general considerations find that all the terrestrial planets should be operating in the stagnant lid regime, in which the planets are one-plated and there is no lithosphere recycling. The stagnant lid regime is a consequence of the strong viscosity contrast across the convective layer, and therefore the upper lid (roughly equivalent to the lithosphere) must be sufficiently weakened in order to be mobilized. Here I propose that giant impacts could have provided the upper layer weakening required for surface recycling, and hence for plate tectonics, to initiate on the early Earth. Additionally, giant impacts originated lithosphere thickness and density differences, which might contribute to the initiation of subduction. Impacts are more energetic for Earth than for Mars, which could explain the likely early existence of plate tectonics on the Earth whereas Mars never had lithosphere recycling. On the other hand, convection on Mercury and the Moon might be sluggish or even inexistent, implying a reduced influence of giant impacts on their internal dynamics, whereas there is no record of the earliest geological history of Venus, which obscures any discussion on the influence of giant impacts on their internal dynamics.

  1. 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.

  2. Thermal Evolution of the Earth from a Plate Tectonics Point of View

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grigne, C.; Combes, M.; Le Yaouanq, S.; Husson, L.; Conrad, C. P.; Tisseau, C.

    2011-12-01

    Earth's thermal history is classically studied using scaling laws that link the surface heat loss to the temperature and viscosity of the convecting mantle. When such a parameterization is used in the global heat budget of the Earth to integrate the mantle temperature backwards in time, a runaway increase of temperature is obtained, leading to the so-called "thermal catastrophe". We propose a new approach that does not rely on convective scaling laws but instead considers the dynamics of plate tectonics, including temperature-dependent surface processes. We use a multi-agent system to simulate time-dependent plate tectonics in a 2D cylindrical geometry with evolutive plate boundaries. Plate velocities are computed using local force balance and explicit parameterizations for plate boundary processes such as trench migration, subduction initiation, continental breakup and plate suturing. The number of plates is not imposed but emerges naturally. At a given time step, heat flux is integrated from the seafloor age distribution and a global heat budget is used to compute the evolution of mantle temperature. This approach has a very low computational cost and allows us to study the effect of a wide range of input parameters on the long-term thermal evolution of the system. For Earth-like parameters, an average cooling rate of 60-70K per billion years is obtained, which is consistent with petrological and rheological constraints. Two time scales arise in the evolution of the heat flux: a linear long-term decrease and high-amplitude short-term fluctuations due to tectonic rearrangements. We show that the viscosity of the mantle is not a key parameter in the thermal evolution of the system and that no thermal catastrophe occurs when considering tectonic processes. The cooling rate of the Earth depends mainly on its ability to replace old insulating seafloor by young thin oceanic lithosphere. Therefore, the main controlling factors are parameters such as the resistance of continental lithosphere to breakup or the critical age for subduction initiation. We infer that simple convective considerations alone cannot account for the complex nature of mantle heat loss and that tectonic processes dictate the thermal evolution of the Earth.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Reidar Lvlie and Plate Tectonic consequences of sedimentary inclination shallowing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Torsvik, Trond H.

    2014-05-01

    Reidar Lvlie was my mentor and supervisor in the early 1980s and he thought me all about laboratory experiments and palaeomagnetic methods, but also various aspects of science philosophy. My first fieldworks were together with him and I enjoyed memorable trips to the Bear Island, Spitsbergen and Scotland. Acquisition of magnetism in sediments was always a favourite topic of Reidar and in the early 1980s he was particularly interested in sedimentary inclination shallowing. From one of our fieldtrips to Spitsbergen we sampled unconsolidated flood-plain deposits of hematite-bearing Devonian red sand/siltstone from Dicksonfjorden. These were used for redeposition experiments in a coil system that could simulate different latitudes (field inclinations) and in 1994 we published a paper entitled"Magnetic remanence and fabric properties of laboratory-deposited hematite-bearing red sandstone" that demonstrated the tangent relationship between inclinations of detrital remanent magnetization and the ambient magnetic field. Inclination (I) error in sediments is latitude dependent, antisymmetric and the bias closely mimics errors produced by octupole fields of the same sign as the dipole field. Inclination shallowing is commonly predicted from tan (Observed Inclination) = f * tan (Field Inclination) where f is the degree of inclination error. In our study we calculated a f value of 0.4 and this laboratory value (and many others) is significant lower than those estimated from the E/I or the magnetic fabric methods developed in the past decade (f typically around 0.6). There is now little doubt that inclination shallowing in detrital sediments is a serious problem that affects plate reconstructions and apparent polar wander paths. As an example, a f value of 0.6 amounts to a latitude error of 1600 km at around 50 degrees N or S (comparable to the effects of octupole contributions as high as 22%) and this have led to erroneous Pangea reconstructions.

  6. Tectonic tremor and brittle seismic events triggered along the Eastern Denali Fault in northwest Canada

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zimmerman, J. P.; Aiken, C.; Peng, Z.

    2013-12-01

    Deep tectonic tremor has been observed in a number of plate-bounding tectonic environments around the world. It can occur both spontaneously (i.e. ambient) and as a result of small stress perturbations from passing seismic waves (i.e. triggered). Because tremor occurs beneath the seismogenic zone (> 15 km), it is important to understand where and how tremor occurs to discern its relationship with shallower earthquakes. In this study, we search for triggered tremor and brittle seismic events along the Eastern Denali Fault (EDF) in northwest Canada, an intraplate strike-slip region where previously tremor has not been observed. We retrieve seismic data for 19 distant earthquakes from 9 broadband stations monitored by the Canadian National Seismograph Network (CNSN). We apply high-pass or band-pass filters to the seismic data to suppress signals from distant events and search for local sources. Triggered tremor signals exhibit high-frequency contents, have long duration (> 15 s), are coincident with passing surface waves of the distant earthquakes, and are observable among nearby stations. Using this simple approach, we have identified 4 mainshocks that triggered tremor in our study region: the 2011/03/11 Mw9.1 Tohoku, 2012/04/11 Mw8.6 Sumatra, 2012/10/28 Mw7.7 Haida Gwaii, and 2013/01/05 Mw7.5 Craige earthquakes. Our initial locations indicate that the tremor source occurs on or near the southeastern portion of the EDF near the fault trace. In addition to the triggered tremor sources, we also identified many 'brittle' events with very short durations triggered by the Rayleigh waves of the 2012/10/28 Mw7.7 Haida Gwaii earthquake. While we were unable to locate these brittle events, they appear to be seismically similar to triggered icequakes observed in Antarctica (Peng et al., 2013) and occur during the dilatational strain changes caused by the Rayleigh waves.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Plate tectonic model for the oligo-miocene evolution of the western Mediterranean

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cohen, Curtis R.

    1980-10-01

    This paper outlines a plate tectonic model for the Oligo-Miocene evolution of the western Mediterranean which incorporates recent data from several tectonic domains (Corsica, Sardinia, the Kabylies, Balearic promontory, Iberia, Algero-Provenal Basin and Tunisian Atlas). Following late Mesozoic anticlockwise rotation of the Iberian peninsula (including the Balearic promontory and Sardinia), late Eocene collision occurred between the Kabylies and Balearic promontory forming a NE-trending suture with NW-tectonic polarity. As a result of continued convergence between the African and European plates, a polarity flip occurred and a southward-facing trench formed south of the KabylieBalearic promontory suture. During late Oligocene time an E-W-trending arc and marginal basin developed behind the southward-facing trench in the area of the present-day Gulf of Lion. Opening of this basin moved the CorsicaSardiniaCalabriaPetit KabylieMenorca plate southward, relative to the African plate. Early Miocene back-arc spreading in the area between the Balearic promontory and Grand Kabylie emplaced the latter in northern Algeria and formed the South Balearic Basin. Coeval with early Miocene back-arc basin development, the N-S-extension in the Gulf of Lion marginal basin changed to a more NW-SE direction causing short-lived extension in the area of the present-day Valencia trough and a 30 anticlockwise rotation of the Corsica-Sardinia-CalabriaPetit Kabylie plate away from the European plate. Earlymiddle Miocene deformation along the western Italian and northeastern African continental margins resulted from this rotation. During the early late Miocene (Tortonian), spreading within a sphenochasm to the southwest of Sardinia resulted in the emplacement of Petit Kabylie in northeastern Algeria.

  10. A window of opportunity for plate tectonics in evolution of Earth-like planets?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Neill, C.

    2011-12-01

    A rocky planet may exhibit stagnant lid behaviour under hot internal conditions due to a decrease in internal viscosity, associated with high internal temperatures, which results in lower induced lithospheric stress. These conditions may be relevant to a planet's early evolution. At the other extreme, cold, sluggish planets, approaching the end of their evolutionary cycle, may also exhibit stagnant behaviour, due to low mantle velocities, and the development of a thick, strong lithospheric lid. This leads to the possibility of a 'window' for plate tectonic behaviour in the evolution of rocky planets; where initial hot planets may exhibit stagnant lid behaviour, evolving into tectonically active planets, before, eventually, entering into a slow decline of tectonism and eventually entering a cold, senescent stagnant mode more typical of Mars today. Here we explore models of viscoplastic mantle convection, with varying internal heating and bottom temperature conditions, and demonstrate a stress maximum exists for middle-aged planets. We present an implementation of evolving internal heat production and basal temperatures through time, and show the viability of a 'window' for plate tectonic behaviour in the evolution of Earth-like planets.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. Reorganization of geological sciences and particularly of metamorphic geology by the advent of plate tectonics: a personal view

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miyashiro, Akiho

    1991-02-01

    Plate tectonics, having being formulated in geophysics in the 1960's, was introduced into, and caused reorganization of, geological sciences in about 1968-1975. An anticipated system of reorganized geology was formulated around 1970 by a few pioneering geologists with a strong background of global-scale regional geology. Pre-existing Dutch-school tectonics with an explicit uniformitarian tendency played an important role in the beginning, development and acceptance of plate tectonic viewpoints. Global-scale views in metamorphic geology that had begun prior to the advent of plate tectonics were developed into tectonic models of regional metamorphism as well as discussions of the P- T- t paths, and of secular changes in the type, of regional metamorphism.

  14. Tectonically Induced Lateral Pressure Gradients Under Africa, Uplift and Mid-plate Volcanism

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beutel, E. K.

    2006-12-01

    Slab roll-back has been consistently linked to mantle flow out from behind the slab. Lateral flow in the mantle indicates a local lateral pressure gradient of high pressure under/behind the slab and low pressure in the direction of flow. Evidence for approximately 30 million years of slab roll-back has been documented in the Mediterranean ahead of the advancing African plate. I hypothesize that the multiple deep lithospheric penetrations into the mantle under and around Africa create backstops against which upper (to ~300 km depth) mantle is impinged and flow is restricted. This causes an increase in the volume of mantle under Africa as the slab retreats, which in turn causes a significant increase in the mantle pressure under Africa which can lead to uplift and volcanism. Mantle volume changes under Africa are calculated using (1) the Faccenna et al (2001) slab-rollback models for the Mediterranean, (2) the locations of the African archean cratonic keels as backstops, and (3) PREM. Multiple models using different lateral restriction depths have been constructed, but it is assumed that the most likely scenario is restricted lateral mantle circulation under Africa to between 310 and 400 km depth and free lateral mantle circulation between 400 km and 660 km. Changes in mantle pressure are then calculated based on a percentage of retained volume change. Based on these calculations only 5% of the original mantle beneath the subducting slab needs to be retained under Africa to increase the pressure by ~2 GPa at 80 km depth. Because this pressure change would be isotropic and nearly equal to lithostatic pressure at this depth general and/or local uplift may occur. Mantle uplift and subsequent volcanism is governed by lithospheric basal topography, which will govern the extent of local versus general effects. The increase in pressure may also cause large volume extrusive events when over-pressured mantle is tapped by a sudden decompression event. Thus, tectonically induced lateral pressure gradients induced by slab roll-back may result in surface uplift and mid-plate volcanism.

  15. 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.

  16. The birth of the Rheic Ocean — Early Palaeozoic subsidence patterns and subsequent tectonic plate scenarios

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    von Raumer, Jürgen F.; Stampfli, Gérard M.

    2008-12-01

    New plate-tectonic reconstructions of the Gondwana margin suggest that the location of Gondwana-derived terranes should not only be guided by the models, but should also consider the possible detrital input from some Asian blocks (Hunia), supposed to have been located along the Cambrian Gondwana margin, and accreted in the Silurian to the North-Chinese block. Consequently, the Gondwana margin has to be subdivided into a more western domain, where the future Avalonian blocks will be separated from Gondwana by the opening Rheic Ocean, whereas in its eastern continuation, hosting the future basement areas of Central Europe, different periods of crustal extension should be distinguished. Instead of applying a rather cylindrical model, it is supposed that crustal extension follows a much more complex pattern, where local back-arcs or intra-continental rifts are involved. Guided by the age data of magmatic rocks and the pattern of subsidence curves, the following extensional events can be distinguished: During the early to middle Cambrian, a back-arc setting guided the evolution at the Gondwana margin. Contemporaneous intra-continental rift basins developed at other places related to a general post-Pan-African extensional phase affecting Africa Upper Cambrian formation of oceanic crust is manifested in the Chamrousse area, and may have lateral cryptic relics preserved in other places. This is regarded as the oceanisation of some marginal basins in a context of back-arc rifting. These basins were closed in a mid-Ordovician tectonic phase, related to the subduction of buoyant material (mid-ocean ridge?) Since the Early Ordovician, a new phase of extension is observed, accompanied by a large-scale volcanic activity, erosion of the rift shoulders generated detritus (Armorican Quartzite) and the rift basins collected detrital zircons from a wide hinterland. This phase heralded the opening of Palaeotethys, but it failed due to the Silurian collision (Eo-Variscan phase) of an intra-oceanic arc with the Gondwana margin. During this time period, at the eastern wing of the Gondwana margin begins the drift of the future Hunia microcontinents, through the opening of an eastern prolongation of the already existing Rheic Ocean. The passive margin of the remaining Gondwana was composed of the Galatian superterranes, constituents of the future Variscan basement areas. Remaining under the influence of crustal extension, they will start their drift to Laurussia since the earliest Devonian during the opening of the Palaeotethys Ocean.

  17. 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 be. The map is designed to show the most prominent features when viewed from a distance, and more detailed features upon closer inspection. The back of the map zooms in further, highlighting examples of fundamental features, while providing text, timelines, references, and other resources to enhance understanding of this dynamic planet. Both the front and back of this map illustrate the enormous recent growth in our knowledge of planet Earth. Yet, much remains unknown, particularly about the processes operating below the ever-shifting plates and the detailed geological history during all but the most recent stage of Earth's development.

  18. 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 differences in magmatic and tectonic. styles of Hijaz orogenesis from those of the Pan-African and the temporal break between them in much of the southern part of the Arabian Shield support division into at least two events. As defined by the ages of major plutonic units, the axis of magmatic and tectonic activity migrated eastward or northeastward during the Hijaz cycle, the predominantly dioritic plutonic rocks becoming younger and more siliceous to the east. Granodiorite to granite pl}.1tonism of the Pan-African event, however, shows no geographic bias, being distributed throughout the Arabian Shield. Although the Hijaz diorites and Pan-African granitic rocks exhibit strong contrasts in composition and age differences as great as 250 m.y. in the westernmost parts of the area, the two groups are less distinct compositionally and nearly the same age in the eastern part.

  19. Tethyan evolution of Turkey: A plate tectonic approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    ^?engr, A. M. Cell; Yilmaz, Ycel

    The Tethyan evolution of Turkey may be divided into two main phases, namely a Palaeo-Tethyan and a Neo-Tethyan, although they partly overlap in time. The Palaeo-Tethyan evolution was governed by the main south-dipping (present geographic orientation) subduction zone of Palaeo-Tethys beneath northern Turkey during the Permo-Liassic interval. During the Permian the entire present area of Turkey constituted a part of the northern margin of Gondwana-Land. A marginal basin opened above the subduction zone and disrupted this margin during the early Triassic. In this paper it is called the Karakaya marginal sea, which was already closed by earliest Jurassic times because early Jurassic sediments unconformably overlie its deformed lithologies. The present eastern Mediterranean and its easterly continuation into the Bitlis and Zagros oceans began opening mainly during the CarnianNorian interval. This opening marked the birth of Neo-Tethys behind the Cimmerian continent which, at that time, started to separate from northern Gondwana-Land. During the early Jurassic the Cimmerian continent internally disintegrated behind the Palaeo-Tethyan arc constituting its northern margin and gave birth to the northern branch of Neo-Tethys. The northern branch of Neo-Tethys included the Intra-Pontide, IzmirAnkara, and the Inner Tauride oceans. With the closure of Palaeo-Tethys during the medial Jurassic only two oceanic areas were left in Turkey: the multi-armed northern and the relatively simpler southern branches of Neo-Tethys. The northern branch separated the AnatolideTauride platform with its long appendage, the BitlisPtrge fragment from Eurasia, whereas the southern one separated them from the main body of Gondwana-Land. The Intra-Pontide and the IzmirAnkara oceans isolated a small Sakarya continent within the northern branch, which may represent an easterly continuation of the Paikon Ridge of the Vardar Zone in Macedonia. The Anatolide-Tauride platform itself constituted the easterly continuation of the Apulian platform that had remained attached to Africa through Sicily. The Neo-Tethyan oceans reached their maximum size during the early Cretaceous in Turkey and their contraction began during the early late Cretaceous. Both oceans were eliminated mainly by north-dipping subduction, beneath the Eurasian, Sakaryan, and the Anatolide- Tauride margins. Subduction beneath the Eurasian margin formed a marginal basin, the present Black Sea and its westerly prolongation into the Srednogorie province of the Balkanides, during the medial to late Cretaceous. This resulted in the isolation of a RhodopePontide fragment (essentially an island arc) south of the southern margin of Eurasia. Late Cretaceous is also a time of widespread ophiolite obduction in Turkey, when the Bozkir ophiolite nappe was obducted onto the northern margin of the AnatolideTauride platform. Two other ophiolite nappes were emplaced onto the BitlisPtrge fragment and onto the northern margin of the Arabian platform respectively. This last event occurred as a result of the collision of the BitlisPtrge fragment with Arabia. Shortly after this collision during the CampanianMaastrichtian, a subduction zone began consuming the floor of the Inner Tauride ocean just to the north of the BitlisPtrge fragment producing the arc lithologies of the Yksekova complex. During the MaastrichtianMiddle Eocene interval a marginal basin complex, the Maden and the ng? basins began opening above this subduction zone, disrupting the ophiolite-laden BitlisPtrge fragment. The Anatolide-Tauride platform collided with the Pontide arc system (RhodopePontide fragment plus the Sakarya continent that collided with the former during the latest Cretaceous along the Intra Pontide suture) during the early to late Eocene interval. This collision resulted in the large-scale south-vergent internal imbrication of the platform that produced the far travelled nappe systems of the Taurides, and buried beneath these, the metamorphic axis of Anatolia, the

  20. Filling in the juvenile magmatic gap: Evidence for uninterrupted Paleoproterozoic plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Partin, C. A.; Bekker, A.; Sylvester, P. J.; Wodicka, N.; Stern, R. A.; Chacko, T.; Heaman, L. M.

    2014-02-01

    Despite several decades of research on growth of the continental crust, it remains unclear whether the production of juvenile continental crust has been continuous or episodic throughout the Precambrian. Models for episodic crustal growth have gained traction recently through compilations of global U-Pb zircon age frequency distributions interpreted to delineate peaks and lulls in crustal growth through geologic time. One such apparent trough in zircon age frequency distributions between ?2.45 and 2.22 Ga is thought to represent a pause in crustal addition, resulting from a global shutdown of magmatic and tectonic processes. The ?2.45-2.22 Ga magmatic shutdown model envisions a causal relationship between the cessation of plate tectonics and accumulation of atmospheric oxygen over the same period. Here, we present new coupled U-Pb, Hf, and O isotope data for detrital and magmatic zircon from the western Churchill Province and Trans-Hudson orogen of Canada, covering an area of approximately 1.3 million km2, that demonstrate significant juvenile crustal production during the ?2.45-2.22 Ga time interval, and thereby argue against the magmatic shutdown hypothesis. Our data is corroborated by literature data showing an extensive 2.22-2.45 Ga record in both detrital and magmatic rocks on every continent, and suggests that the operation of plate tectonics continued throughout the early Paleoproterozoic, while atmospheric oxygen rose over the same time interval. We argue that uninterrupted plate tectonics between ?2.45 and 2.22 Ga would have contributed to efficient burial of organic matter and sedimentary pyrite, and the consequent rise in atmospheric oxygen documented for this time interval.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Dynamic Topography and Sea Level Change Inferred from Dipole and Quadrupole Moments of Plate Tectonic Reconstructions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Conrad, C. P.; Steinberger, B. M.; Torsvik, T. H.

    2014-12-01

    Although constraints on the history of mantle flow are difficult to obtain, tectonic reconstructions contain information about the longest wavelength patterns of mantle flow that drove plate motions in the past. To examine the influence of this long-wavelength flow on global geodynamics, we computed the dipole and quadrupole moments (harmonic degrees 1 and 2) of the spherical vector fields associated with tectonic reconstructions of plate motions back to 250 Ma. Areas of dipole or quadrupole divergence lie above regions of major mantle upwelling, and convergence regions reside atop major mantle downwellings. To constrain the time-dependence of dynamic topography associated with these upwellings and downwellings, we used a numerical model of present-day mantle flow to relate degree-1 and degree-2 patterns of dynamic topography to the orientations and amplitudes of the dipole and quadrupole moments of present-day plate motions. We then apply this relationship to the dipole and quadrupole moments of past plate motions to compute the long-wavelength components of dynamic topography for the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Continental motions over this time-evolving dynamic topography predict patterns of continental uplift and subsidence that can be related to geological observations of continental surfaces relative to sea level. Net uplift or subsidence of the global seafloor can also induce eustatic sea level changes. We infer that dispersal of the Pangean supercontinent away from upwelling beneath Africa may have exposed the seafloor to an increasingly larger area of positive dynamic topography since the early Mesozoic that has caused up to 100 m of sea level rise during this time period. This component of sea level change helps to balance observations of Cretaceous and Cenozoic sea level change with an estimated total sea level budget that includes concurrent tectonic and climatic influences that produce sea level drop of up to ~250 m.

  4. 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 spreading ridges or the departure of slow spreading ridges from the half-space cooling model.

  5. 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 mixing characteristics.

  6. 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.

  7. The tectonic framework of the African Plate illustrated by potential field data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gaina, C.; Mandea, M.; Hamoudi, M.

    2012-12-01

    The African continent preserves a diversity of tectonic provinces, from ancient Archaean cratons to recent rifted areas like the East African Rift system, and is surrounded by oceanic crust of Jurassic to Present day ages. Large areas of the African continent are not accessible or simply not mapped in detail, which makes difficult to make regional tectonic interpretations and models. In order to make a consistent first order interpretation of the African's tectonic provinces we assemble a set of multi-scale magnetic data by combining satellite and some available ground and airborne/shipborne data. Detailed studies of the main tectonic structures linked to the southern branch of the East African Rift as well as regions in the Northern and Southern Africa are presented in the light of new magnetic data. Major magnetic field anomalies are compared with gravity anomalies provided by the recently published World Gravity Map. Finally, we discuss how the potential fields reflect the geodynamics of the African plate and its evolution.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 reliable data about a specific earthquake to a Java Server Page on our web site hosting the XML application. Other geologists can readily retrieve the submitted data, saved in files or special tables of the designed database, through a search engine designed with J2EE (JSP, servlet, Java Bean) and XML specifications such as XPath, XPointer, and XSLT. When extended to include all the important concepts of seismology and plate tectonics, the two markup languages will make global interchange of geological data a reality.

  11. Kimberlites in western Liberia - An overview of the geological setting in a plate tectonic framework

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haggerty, S. E.

    1982-12-01

    Evidence which includes Landsat images is presented for prolonged periods of tectonism, marginal to and extending within the intracratonic region of the West African platform. Also found are indications of intermittent, or perhaps even sustained activity, dating back to more than three billion years. The petrology and mineral chemistry of kimberlites, and their associated nodule suites in the present region, are broadly similar to those from kimberlite localities throughout the African continent, and should therefore be considered as part of a major province. Attention is drawn to the lineament control of kimberlites, and the coincidence of these lineaments with the basement fabric and with faults. The proposed interpretation for the distribution of West African kimberlites is in essential agreement with the intraplate and intracratonic model of Dawson (1970) and Sykes (1978), which calls upon the reactivation of paleofaults and sutures during plate tectonism.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 that is broadly consistent with geologically based reconstructions of production rate variations. From the new reconstructions, a consistent decrease of total oceanic heat flow by ~ -0.25%/Myr over the last 140~Ma is inferred. Our study provides some of the required input for 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.

  17. 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 38, L21201. [5] Foley, B.J., Bercovici, D. and Landuyt, W. (2012), EPSL 331-332, 281-290. [6] Korenaga, J. (2010), Astrophys. J. Let. 725, L43-L46. [7] Hüttig, C. and K. Stemmer (2008), PEPI 171, 137-146. [8] Stamenkovic, V.; L. Noack, D. Breuer and T. Spohn (2012), Astroph. J. 748(1), 41.

  18. 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.

  19. The 3-D tectonic stress fields in and around Japan inverted from centroid moment tensor data of seismic events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Terakawa, Toshiko; Matsu'Ura, Mitsuhiro

    2010-12-01

    We can regard the occurrence of earthquakes as the partial release of tectonic stress by sudden brittle rupture. In the framework of linear elasticity, any indigenous source including earthquake rupture is represented by a moment tensor. The moment tensor is mathematically equivalent to the volume integral of stress release over the whole elastic region surrounding the source, and so we can quantitatively relate the centroid moment tensor (CMT) of seismic events with an unknown tectonic stress field. On the basis of such an idea and Bayesian statistical inference theory, we developed an inversion method to estimate the 3-D pattern of tectonic stress from CMT data. Applying the CMT data inversion method to 12,500 seismic events in and around Japan, we obtained precise 3-D tectonic stress patterns that illuminate the present-day (Quaternary) complex tectonic motion of Japanese islands. The stress pattern of the Kuril-Japan-Nankai arc is basically E-W compression, but the direction of intermediate principal stress changes from N-S (reverse faulting type) in northeast Japan to vertical (strike-slip faulting type) in southwest Japan. On the other hand, the stress pattern of the Ryukyu and Izu-Bonin back-arc regions is basically trench perpendicular tension (normal faulting type). In addition to these basic stress patterns governed by mechanical interaction between the Eurasian, North American, Pacific, and Philippine Sea plates, we can recognize several characteristic local stress patterns corresponding to the horizontal motion of the Kuril fore-arc sliver, the collision of the Izu Peninsula with the mainland of Japan, and the opening of the Beppu-Shimabara rift zone.

  20. Cenozoic Plate tectonic history of the northern Venezuela-Trinidad Area

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Erlich, Robert N.; Barrett, S. F.

    1990-02-01

    Geological and geophysical data, coupled with recent plate tectonic reconstructions, suggest that the Cenozoic geologic history of the northern Venezuela-Trinidad area has been dominated by strike-slip displacement of discrete crustal blocks. Allochthonous terranes within the area include metavolcanic rocks of the Cretaceous Villa de Cura Group and metamorphic rocks of the Precambrian to Cretaceous Cordillera de la Costa. A relatively competent crustal block (Margarita Block) is defined by an outline around the metamorphic basement of Margarita Island, the Araya/Paria peninsula, the Northern Range of Trinidad, and Tobago Island. Reconstruction of the Margarita Block to its original position requires at least partial closure of the Falcon Basin, closure of the Bonaire and Cariaco basins, and restoration of about 50 km of motion on both the Oca and Bocono faults. Post middle Eocene eastward translation of the Caribbean plate caused eastward motion of the Margarita Block. A minor change in relative plate motion during the late Oligocene or early Miocene produced a right step in the Moron fault, forming the Cariaco pull-apart basin and El Pilar fault zone. Maximum offset on El Pilar fault is estimated to be no more than 125 km, though displacement along the entire fault zone may have been greater. Transpressional stresses between the Caribbean plate and northern South America caused folding of the Serrania del Interior of Venezuela and the Central Range of Trinidad. Eastward migration of transpressional stresses at the southeastern corner of the Caribbean-South American plate boundary is being accommodated by formation of oblique thrusts, transpressive anticlines, and downwarping of the crust. Bouguer gravity data suggest that Jurassic-aged Atlantic oceanic crust is being depressed as the Caribbean plate expands into the Demerara Plateau area. This study suggests that the faults and transtensional/transpressional/compressional structures identified in this study are the result of stresses produced during the large eastward translation of the Caribbean plate since the Paleocene, and are not the product of a shear couple.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-12-01

    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 >80C 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Detection of Slow Slip Events Along the Cascadia Subduction Zone Using Plate Boundary Observatory Borehole Strainmeters

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McCausland, W.; Roeloffs, E.

    2007-12-01

    In the spring of 2005, the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) began installing borehole strainmeters in the Pacific Northwest. Currently there are 18 borehole strainmeters operating from Vancouver Island, Canada to Southern Oregon that are favorably located to detect slow slip along the Cascadia subduction zone. While the longest (> two weeks) subduction tremor episodes are accompanied by slow slip events, there are shorter duration tremor episodes that have not been accompanied by GPS-detected slow slip events. It is possible that a slow slip event does occur, but is below the current resolution of the GPS network. Using data from these PBO strainmeters, we developed a scanning technique to detect strain transients. The strainmeter data are band-passed between 5 and 16 days to eliminate tides and long-term variations. In this band, the instrument responds primarily to atmospheric pressure. Excursions of the gauges from the atmospheric pressure variations are investigated as possible tectonic strain transients. Several features of the strainmeters aid us in distinguishing between tectonic strain transients and other variations in the data. First, tectonic transient strain signals will be recorded similarly on closely clustered strainmeters; there are 4 such clusters along the Cascadia subduction zone. Second, if the areal strain recalculated using two orthogonal gauges is not consistent with the areal strain calculated on three equally spaced gauges, then the signal is not caused by strain. Pumping or rainfall can cause strain variations that we can distinguish from tectonic events by looking at other measured quantities including fluid pressure, precipitation, etc. Thus far, in northern Washington and Canada, all the known transient slow slip events recorded on the strainmeters were also detected by the GPS network. In southern Oregon, our scanning technique found one possible tectonic event on the B035-B036 cluster near Grant's Pass during late July and early August 2007. Other researchers (Szeliga et al, 2004; McCausland et al, 2005; Brudzinski and Allen, in press) have reported recurring subduction tremor and slow slip in this area. Further corroborating our observations, cleaned GPS data from the PANGA website for the east-west component of nearby station DDSN, resembles signals from previous slip events.

  5. Learning by exploring planets, plate tectonics, and the process of inquiry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bartlett, M. G.

    2006-12-01

    Inquiry-based instruction should be question driven, involve good triggers for learning, emphasize researchable questions, build research skills, provide mechanisms for students to monitor their progress, and draw on the expertise of the instruction to promote inquiry and reflection. At Brigham Young University Hawaii, we have implemented an inquiry based approach to teaching introductory Earth science which provides students with little or no background in the sciences immediate access to participation in current research of genuine scientific interest. An example of this process is presented in which students are engaged in reflecting on whether plate tectonics is a general theory of planetary organization and evolution. Students use topographic, magnetic, spectral, and other data from NASA and ESA missions to determine whether "Earth-style" plate tectonics is functional on planets and moons elsewhere in the solar system. Students are engaged in a data- rich environment from which they must formulate and test multiple hypotheses. Throughout the process, students are engaged in small groups to identify what they need to learn to answer their questions, what resources are available to them, how best to report their findings, and how they can assess the amount of learning that is taking place. Students' responses to the course have been overwhelmingly positive and suggest that many of the students are internalizing the meta-cognitive skills the course is designed to inculcate.

  6. 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.

  7. Marine Magnetic Anomaly Compilations in the Indian Ocean for Plate Tectonics and Beyond (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dyment, J.; Bhattacharya, G. C.; Vadakkeyakath, Y.; Bissessur, D.; Jacob, J.; Kattoju, K. R.; Ramprasad, T.; Royer, J.; Patriat, P.; Chaubey, A. K.; Srinivas, K.; Choi, Y.

    2009-12-01

    The French territories in the western and southern parts of the Indian Ocean (i.e. Reunion and Mayotte islands, islands in the Mozambique Channel, Kerguelen and Crozet archipelagos, Saint Paul and Amsterdam islands) have triggered significant scientific activities, including marine geophysics, by French scientists in this area. French marine magnetic data in this ocean span more than four decades, with records as old as 1966 and as recent as early 2009. Similarly, Indian scientists have collected a large amount of geophysical data in the northern Indian Ocean, with a focus on the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Central Indian Basin, and surrounding areas. To take advantage of the obvious complementarity of the French and Indian data sets for plate tectonics studies, we have conducted two projects funded by the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research, the first one regarding the Arabian and eastern Somali basins, the second one the Central Indian, Madagascar and Crozet basins. These projects have been complemented by more localized work over the Mascarene Basin and Wharton basins, both characterized by an abandoned spreading centre. The purpose of this presentation is to show how such a compilation is being used to conduct plate tectonic studies, from the identification of the magnetic anomalies to their unambiguous picking using the analytic signal, the construction of isochrons and tectonic chart, and the paleogeographic reconstructions. Beyond this classical use, the compiled data can be used to produce magnetic anomaly grids and maps in areas with sufficient data coverage: such grids may help to improve and/or complement future versions of the World Digital Magnetic Anomaly Map (WDMAM).

  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. Role of viscous plate coupling in the late Tertiary Andean tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    YEz, Gonzalo; Cembrano, Jos

    2004-02-01

    Plate coupling between oceanic and continental plates in convergent margins of Andean type is analyzed from the continuum mechanics approach. We postulate a simple mechanism that accounts for the compressive regime in Andean-type environments. In this mechanism, deformation in the continental lithosphere is split into two distinctive domains: The forearc domain and the arc-foreland domain. The forearc deformation is controlled by the balance between buoyancy forces associated with the trench and continental slope relief and the stress transferred from the convergence velocity through the age- and velocity-dependent slip zone. The arc-foreland deformation is controlled by the absolute plate velocity of the continental plate and the resistance at the slip zone. Strength of the coupling zone is determined by analyzing the dynamic trench topography along the active margin of South America between 0 and 55S. Using this approach, we found strength values in the range of 20-95 MPa, in strong direct correlation with the age of the subducting plate. The slip layer strength observation has been successfully tested against a thermal- and strain rate-dependent rheological model. From this theoretical result we define an empirical relationship between strength of the slip zone and the age and convergence velocity. Applying this plate coupling model, we reproduce shortening rates in the order of 1-10 km/Myr, in agreement with those reported for the late Tertiary evolution of the Andes. Model results reproduce some first-order features of the geological evolution of the margin, such as the shape of the trench, the overall Andes relief, the Altiplano buildup, and block rotation patterns. In addition, the model provides a mechanism to explain the evolution of the Central Depression, the inversion of Tertiary basins under slow convergence rates during the Miocene, and the segmentation of the margins tectonic erosion.

  10. 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.

  11. Parameters controlling dynamically self-consistent plate tectonics and single-sided subduction in global models of mantle convection

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Crameri, Fabio; Tackley, Paul J.

    2015-05-01

    Recent advances in numerical modeling allow global models of mantle convection to more realistically reproduce the behavior at convergent plate boundaries; in particular, the inclusion of a free surface at the outer boundary has been shown to facilitate self-consistent development of single-sided subduction. This allows for a more extensive study of subduction in the context of global mantle convection, as opposed to commonly used regional models. Our first study already indicated important differences between mantle convection with single-sided subduction and mantle convection with double-sided subduction. Here we further investigate the effect of various physical parameters and complexities on inducing Earth-like plate tectonics and its evolution in time. Results reinforce the previous finding that using a free surface instead of a free-slip outer boundary dramatically changes subduction style, with free surface cases displaying many episodes of single-sided subduction, which leads to more realistic slab dip, stress state, trench retreat rate, and slab-induced mantle flow. Longevity of single-sided subduction is promoted by a layer of hydrated crust with a low yield strength to lubricate the subduction channel, a low-viscosity asthenosphere, and a high strength of the slab (determined by a combination of high-diffusion creep viscosity and intermediate friction coefficient), although its effective viscosity is in the observationally constrained range in the bending region. The time evolution displays interesting events including subduction polarity reversals, subduction shut-off, and slab break-off.

  12. Is a 50 Ma Event Recorded in the Absolute Plate Motion of Africa?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Maher, S. M.; Wessel, P.; Mller, R.; Harada, Y.

    2012-12-01

    There is considerable evidence for a global plate tectonic reorganization at ~Chron 21, as suggested by observed changes in global relative plate motion (RPM). The timings of these events appear to coincide with the age of the Hawaiian Emperor Bend (HEB), i.e., ~47-50 Ma. This 120 bend has traditionally been the poster child for the fixed hotspot hypothesis, suggesting the Pacific plate underwent a change in absolute plate motion (APM) as it moved over a more or less stationary Hawaiian hotspot. However, palaeomagnetic evidence favors southward motion of the Hawaii hotspot during the Emperor stage, limiting the amount of APM change required. In the Indo-Atlantic realm, RPMs involving Africa all seem compatible with a change in Africa APM around ~50 Ma. If this global plate reorganization took place there should also be physical evidence on the Africa plate itself due to the change in Africa APM. A candidate for such evidence may be the Runion-Mascarene bend, which exhibits many HEB-like features. However, the Runion hotspot also created the Chagos-Laccadive ridge as it encountered (and later crossed) the Carlsberg Ridge, and the oldest Mascarene section closest to the Seychelles may be continental in origin; thus there is some uncertainty in how to interpret the geometry. Furthermore, published APM models have had difficulty modeling this abrupt change in orientation. To reexamine this problem we derived a new Africa APM model that goes back to ~65 Ma using the Hybrid Polygonal Finite Rotation Method. The modeling incorporates the geometry and ages of seamount chains on the Africa plate and their associated hotspots as suitable constraints on an Africa APM model. The present as well as earlier positions of hotspots can be adjusted to get the best fit for the model. We examine how models with or without a ~50 Ma bend satisfy the geometries and age progressions of hotspot chains on the Africa plate and how well the predictions match observed paleolatitudes.

  13. Plate tectonic evolution of the southern margin of Eurasia in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Golonka, J.

    2004-03-01

    Thirteen time interval maps were constructed, which depict the Triassic to Neogene plate tectonic configuration, paleogeography and general lithofacies of the southern margin of Eurasia. The aim of this paper is to provide an outline of the geodynamic evolution and position of the major tectonic elements of the area within a global framework. The Hercynian Orogeny was completed by the collision of Gondwana and Laurussia, whereas the Tethys Ocean formed the embayment between the Eurasian and Gondwanian branches of Pangea. During Late Triassic-Early Jurassic times, several microplates were sutured to the Eurasian margin, closing the Paleotethys Ocean. A Jurassic-Cretaceous north-dipping subduction boundary was developed along this new continental margin south of the Pontides, Transcaucasus and Iranian plates. The subduction zone trench-pulling effect caused rifting, creating the back-arc basin of the Greater Caucasus-proto South Caspian Sea, which achieved its maximum width during the Late Cretaceous. In the western Tethys, separation of Eurasia from Gondwana resulted in the formation of the Ligurian-Penninic-Pieniny-Magura Ocean (Alpine Tethys) as an extension of Middle Atlantic system and a part of the Pangean breakup tectonic system. During Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous times, the Outer Carpathian rift developed. The opening of the western Black Sea occurred by rifting and drifting of the western-central Pontides away from the Moesian and Scythian platforms of Eurasia during the Early Cretaceous-Cenomanian. The latest Cretaceous-Paleogene was the time of the closure of the Ligurian-Pieniny Ocean. Adria-Alcapa terranes continued their northward movement during Eocene-Early Miocene times. Their oblique collision with the North European plate led to the development of the accretionary wedge of the Outer Carpathians and its foreland basin. The formation of the West Carpathian thrusts was completed by the Miocene. The thrust front was still propagating eastwards in the eastern Carpathians. During the Late Cretaceous, the Lesser Caucasus, Sanandaj-Sirjan and Makran plates were sutured to the Iranian-Afghanistan plates in the Caucasus-Caspian Sea area. A north-dipping subduction zone jumped during Paleogene to the Scythian-Turan Platform. The Shatski terrane moved northward, closing the Greater Caucasus Basin and opening the eastern Black Sea. The South Caspian underwent reorganization during Oligocene-Neogene times. The southwestern part of the South Caspian Basin was reopened, while the northwestern part was gradually reduced in size. The collision of India and the Lut plate with Eurasia caused the deformation of Central Asia and created a system of NW-SE wrench faults. The remnants of Jurassic-Cretaceous back-arc systems, oceanic and attenuated crust, as well as Tertiary oceanic and attenuated crust were locked between adjacent continental plates and orogenic systems.

  14. 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; Mller, 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.

  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. 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

  17. 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

  18. Tectonic activity and plate boundaries along the northern flank of the Fiji Platform

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hughes Clarke, J. E.; Jarvis, P.; Tiffin, D.; Price, R.; Kroenke, L.

    1993-06-01

    Recent volcanic activity along the northern flank of the Fiji Platform, revealed for the first time from new GLORIA imagery, suggests that the loci of interplate motion in this region have migrated rapidly since the switch from Vitiaz to New Hebridean subduction at 5 8 Ma. At present the plate boundaries along the northern flank of the Fiji Platform consist of two major strike-slip faults of opposing sense: the sinistral Fiji Transform Fault along the northwest flank of the platform, and at least one (or possibly two) zones of dextral strike slip (including Peggy Ridge) along the northeast flank. The tectonic relation-ships of these two fault systems lies north of Fiji and is not determined.

  19. 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 the shallow mantle due to viscosity variations with the loss of hydrogen upon melting (Faul and Jackson, JGR 2007; Korenaga and Karato, JGR 2008). In this work we present a set of 2D spherical annulus simulations (Hernlund and Tackley, PEPI 2008) using StagYY (Tackley, PEPI 2008), which uses a finite-volume scheme for advection of temperature, a multigrid solver to obtain a velocity-pressure solution at each timestep, tracers to track composition, and a treatment of partial melting and crustal formation. We address the question whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour as a function of governing parameters. Our results show that melting and crustal production strongly influence plate tectonics on terrestrial planets, by making plate tectonics both easier and harder; i.e., for the same yield stress and reference viscosity the use or not of a treatment for melting and crustal production may result in a change from a stagnant-lid regime into an episodic-lid regime or a change from mobile-lid regime to an episodic-lid regime. Several factors can play a role on these, namely lateral heterogeneities and differences in the lid thickness induced by melting and crustal production, the maximum depth of melting, etc.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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 the northern end of the JdF Plate: the Endeavour spreading segment, the Nootka transform fault, and the convergent margin at the toe of the Cascadia subduction complex. All sensors are capable of measuring time-varying behavior for a year. A novel deep-sea remote sensor capable of autonomous detection of microbial output at the seafloor will be added to the existing ensemble in 2005-6. These instrument systems will be phased into NEPTUNE, scheduled to come on line in 2007-8. As of September 2004, we also have a live satellite-mooring link from a seismometer and flow meter at a cold-seep site near the intersection of the Nootka transform and the Cascadia prism. The ultimate goal is to utilize the power of NEPTUNE-like installations to quantitatively assess the regional, and eventually, the global, fluxes and biodiversity associated with this newly recognized tectonically-generated phenomenon of subseafloor microbial productivity. Fully characterizing this planetary-scale process requires establishing a permanent presence on the seafloor to continuously observe, document, and interact with co-varying processes driving fluid expulsion, the chemical consequences, and the microbial responses. Similar phenomena may operate on other planets; we might even export approaches learned on earth. *The Keck Team includes more than 25 scientists and engineers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Inst., Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst., Univ. of Victoria, Inst. of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, BC, and Univ. of Washington.

  3. Miocene-Pliocene transition in the southern Cyprus basins: The sedimentary expression of regional tectonic events

    SciTech Connect

    Orzag-Sperber, F.; Rouchy, J.M. )

    1988-08-01

    In the southern part of Cyprus, a Maastrichtian-Pleistocene sedimentary area fringes Troodos Mountain, a fragment of an ancient crust. During the Neogene, three basins formed in this area: Polemi, Pissouri, and Psematismenos. A deep marine condition has prevailed since the Maastrichtian. During the Paleocene and early Miocene, the sea gradually become shallower until the Messinian, where the most spectacular sedimentary event concerns the deposition of evaporites contemporaneous with other Mediterranean evaporites. Some sedimentary phenomena express the tectonic instability during the upper Miocene. A well-known tectonic event affecting the east Mediterranean region generally referred to as the Miocene-Pliocene phase occurs at the Miocene-Pliocene limit. Recent sedimentological studies indicate this event is in fact complex. The Tortonian-lower Pliocene period is marked by a constraint involving an N20 distension in the Polemi and Pissouri basins and an N100 distension in the Psematismenos basin. Sedimentologic studies have demonstrated three tectonic pulsations during the Messinian prior to the Pliocene transgression. These are expressed by two episodes of seismic brecciation and a paleoemersion indicated by paleosols and detrital discharges. These phenomena suggest brief tectonic instability during the Messinian. Microtectonic studies reveal that the main change in tectonic constraint does not coincide with the Miocene-Pliocene contact but occurs at the top of the lower Pliocene.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 a thin (~several km), brittle lid overlying a thicker, convecting ice layer, with plate motions and subduction restricted to the brittle lid. The subducting plate is presumably consumed at a rate conducive to complete subsumption into the convecting layer. On Earth, oceanic lithosphere recycling occurred along 55,000 km of subduction zones in <200 Myr at 20-80 mm/yr. On Europa, similar subduction rates (11-26 mm/yr), if valid, are possible for 30,000 km of subduction boundaries. Europa's surface area (~6% of Earth's) would accordingly recycle over a shorter time frame, consistent with the surface age. Our work potentially provides a new paradigm for interpreting Europa's surface features and age, and provides a mechanism to deliver nutrients from the surface to the ocean: crucial for astrobiology and habitability. If subduction exists, Europa would become the only other solar system body beyond Earth to exhibit plate tectonics, involving subduction (surface area removal), mid-ocean-ridge-like spreading (surface area creation at dilational bands), and transform motions. Such motions are presumably driven by convection in the deeper, warmer ice, evidenced by thermal upwellings at sites of chaos and lenticulae.

  6. 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 simultaneously and does not require any special software installation on users' systems. In addition, a javascript-based educational interface, dubbed "Exploring our Dynamic Planet", incorporates the map tool, explanatory material, background scientific material, and curricular activities that encourage users to explore Earth processes using the Jules Verne Voyager, Jr. tool. Exploring our Dynamic Planet can be viewed at http://www.dpc.ucar.edu/VoyagerJr/. Because of its flexibility, the map utilities can be used for hands-on exercises exploring plate interaction in a range of academic settings, from high school science classes to entry-level undergraduate to graduate-level tectonics courses.

  7. Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Briestenský, Miloš; Rowberry, Matt D.; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozár, Jozef; Šebela, Stanka; Petro, Ľubomír; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Pudovít; Ormukov, Cholponbek

    2015-10-01

    The EU-TecNet monitoring network uses customized three-dimensional extensometers to record transient deformations across individual faults. This paper presents the first results from two newly established monitoring points in the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. The data from Saeva Dupka, recorded across an EEN-WWS striking fault, show sinistral strike-slip along the fault and subsidence of the southern block. Much of the subsidence occurred around the time of the distal MW = 5.6 Pernik Earthquake. An important transient deformation event, which began in autumn 2012, was reflected by significant compression and following extension, across the monitored fault. The data from Bacho Kiro, recorded across a NE-SW striking fault, show sinistral strike-slip along the fault and subsidence of the north-western block. The same important deformation event was reflected by changes in the strike-slip, dip-slip, and horizontal opening/closing trends. These results have been compared to data from other monitoring points in the Western Carpathians, External Dinarides, and Tian Shan. Many of the sites show evidence of simultaneous displacement anomalies and this observation is interpreted as a reflection of the plate-wide propagation of a tectonic pressure pulse towards the end of 2012.

  8. Geodetic and tectonic analyses along an active plate boundary: The central Gulf of California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ortlieb, L.; Ruegg, J. C.; Angelier, J.; Colletta, B.; Kasser, M.; Lesage, P.

    1989-06-01

    The Gulf of California is traversed by the shear plate boundary between Pacific and North American plates and, because of several islands in its central part, offers the possibility of direct geodetic measurements of plate motion. A geodetic network of 150 km aperture, and comprising 11 stations, was measured in 1982 and 1986 by laser trilateration methods. The deformations deduced from the comparison of the two epochs indicate right-lateral shear strain covering the entire gulf rather than localized movements. In the eastern part of the network, between the axial islands and the Sonoran coast, significant right-lateral shear deformation occurs with a relative displacement of about 23 12 cm over 4 years. In the northwestern region (Canal de Ballenas) a right-lateral displacement of about 17 4 cm is observed, whereas in the southwestern part of the network (Canal Sal-si-Puedes), the deformation remains very weak. This suggests that south of the Canal de Ballenas the plate boundary is locked. A tectonic analysis of Neogene and Quaternary faults in Baja California, Sonora, and the central islands of the gulf, permitted the reconstruction of the stress pattern evolution of this area. These data also indicate the predominance of right-lateral motion on a NW-SE trending zone within a regional framework characterized by an approximately N-S compression and an E-W extension. The geodetic results are discussed in comparison with the neotectonic analysis and the seismic data available in the area. The data suggest a broad strain accumulation zone covering the totality of the central Gulf of California. A NW-SE relative velocity of about 8 3 cm/yr is found between the two sides of the gulf during the 1982-1986 interval.

  9. Opening of the Aden Gulf Ridge Derived from GPS Constraints and Plate Tectonic Models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fernandes, R. M.; Rolandone, F.; Leroy, S.; Alothman, A.; Al-Aydrus, A.; Khalil, H.; Ahmed, A.; Khanbari, K.; Bos, M. S.; Nicolon, P.; Heydel, L.

    2012-12-01

    The Aden Gulf Ridge forms, together with the Red Sea and the Ethiopian Rift, the only emerged RRR-type (Ridge/Ridge/Ridge) triple junction in the globe: the Afar Triple Junction. The Aden Gulf Ridge defines the boundary between two major tectonic blocks: Arabia and Somalia, being Nubia the third unit in the triple junction (bordering Arabia along the Red Sea and Somalia along the Ethiopian Rift). Although the extensional behaviour of these structures are well known, the present-day magnitudes of their opening rates are still under evaluation, in particular for the opening rate between the Arabia and Somalia plates. This work uses GPS observations acquired in campaign and continuous mode in order to better constrain the opening rates of the three plate boundaries. For the Nubia-Arabia and Nubia-Somalia boundary plates, we use solely the velocity predictions given by our computed angular velocity models using the available continuous stations in Nubia, Somalia and Arabia. The available data set is augmented here with several stations in Saudi Arabia, which allow us to better constrain the angular velocity for the stable part of the Arabia plate. We estimate the angular velocity model with respect to ITRF2008 (the latest realization of the International Terrestrial Reference System) using the value of 2.5 years (although most of the stations have already a significantly longer time-series) as threshold data span for the processed time-series. Temporal correlations are used to properly estimate the uncertainty of the time-series and derived angular velocity model. In addition, to study the near-field in the Aden Gulf, data acquired in denser campaign networks in Yemen and Oman are used to also directly compute the extension rate in the Red Sea. We show that most of the Arabian Peninsula is stable (within the uncertainties) but the southwest part (Yemen) is influenced by the proximity with the Afar Triple Junction.

  10. The Cretaceous iron belt of northern Chile: role of oceanic plates, a superplume event, and a major shear zone

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oyarzun, Roberto; Oyarzún, Jorge; Ménard, Jean Jacques; Lillo, Javier

    2003-08-01

    The Cretaceous constitutes a turning point in the tectonic, magmatic, and metallogenic history of Chile. The geological evidence indicates that a major change occurred in late Neocomian time when superplume emplacement (Mid-Pacific Superplume) and plate reorganization processes took place in the Pacific. The superplume event resulted in a major ridge-push force resulting in increased coupling between the subducting and overriding plates. This completely changed the tectonic setting of Chile ending the Early Cretaceous extensional period (aborted rifting in the back-arc basin), and increasing stress at a crustal scale. As a consequence, overpressurized dioritic magmas were pushed up mainly along the best possible structural path in northern Chile, i.e., the Atacama Fault Zone, eventually forming a +500-km-long belt of Kiruna-type iron deposits with reserves of ~2,000 Mt (60% Fe), a unique case in Chile's geological history.

  11. The Tectonic Event of the Cenozoic in the Tasman Area, Western Pacific, and Its Role in Eocene Global Change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Collot, J.; Sutherland, R.; Rouillard, P.; Patriat, M.; Roest, W. R.; Bache, F.

    2014-12-01

    The geometry and age progression of Emperor and Hawaii seamounts provide compelling evidence for a major change in Pacific plate motion over a short period of geological time at c. 50 Ma. This time approximately coincides with significant changes in plate boundary configuration and rate in the Indian Ocean, Antarctica, and with the onset of subduction zones in the western Pacific from Japan to New Zealand. This new subduction system that initiated during Eocene time can be divided into two sectors: The northern sector formed at the eastern boundary of the Philippine Sea plate and evolved into the Izu-Bonin-Mariana system. It has and is being extensively studied (2014 IODP expedition 351) to determine the magmatic products, but is limited in the record that is preserved because it is entirely intra-oceanic in character. The southern sector, the Tasman Area sector, borders continental fragments of Gondwana from Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and New Zealand. This subduction zone evolved into the Tonga-Kemadec system. Because most of the southwest Pacific remained in marine conditions throughout Paleogene time and because rapid seawards roll-back of the subduction is inferred to have happened, it presents extensive well-preserved stratigraphic records to study the Eocene-Oligocene plate boundary evolution. The recent compilation of c. 100.000 km of 2D seismic data in the Tasman Frontier database has allowed us to describe, in the overriding plate of the proto subduction, stratigraphic evidence for large Cenozoic vertical movements (2-4 km) over a lateral extension of 2000 km (from New Caledonia to New Zealand), long-wavelength (~500 km) warping and large amounts of reverse faulting and folding near the proto-trench. These recent observations from the Lord Howe Rise, New Caledonia Trough and South Norfolk Ridge system reveal clear evidence for convergent deformation (uplift and erosion) and subsequent subsidence recorded in Eocene and Oligocene stratal relationships. Together, these evidences form a tectonic event, which is manifest as a regional Eocene-Oligocene unconformity, and which is named the "Tectonic Event of the Cenozoic in the Tasman Area" (TECTA). Studying the absolute timing of TECTA and the relative timing of its sub-events will allow to better understand its role and relation to Eocene global change.

  12. The Mesozoic and Cenozoic Motion of Greenland and its Importance for Understanding Arctic Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hopper, J. R.; Marcussen, C.; Funck, T.; Gregersen, U.; Knutz, P. C.

    2010-12-01

    Although today Greenland is part of the North American Plate, through much of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, the Greenlandic lithosphere behaved largely as an independent plate. Details regarding its precise motion relative to both North America and Europe are complicated by the fact that our understanding of Arctic plate boundaries remains rudimentary, especially with regard to the Amerasian Basin. The various poles of rotation that have been proposed for Greenland generally imply significant northward motion of Greenland, with significant implications for possible deformation patterns in the Arctic basins surrounding Greenland. In this contribution, we review the possible motion of Greenland relative to the surrounding plates and examine the constraints available for determining these motions. A key problem is that only the North Atlantic and Eurasian basins show well-defined magnetic spreading anomalies. Thus, while the motion of Greenland relative to the European plate is reasonably well constrained back to the Paleocene, the motion of Greenland relative to North America is highly uncertain. Anomalies in the Labrador Sea can be identified, but their interpretation is more uncertain and anomalies in the Baffin Bay cannot be convincingly identified. Structural trends identified in gravity anomaly data thus remain ambiguous in terms of identifying directions of motion. Nevertheless, pronounced shortening between Greenland and Ellesmere Island during the Eurekan orogeny is clear as is shortening along Northern Greenland as evidenced by an exposed and young fold and thrust belt near Kap Washington. Thus, some component of northward motion and/or counterclockwise rotation of Greenland relative to North America is clearly indicated during the Cenozoic. A key data gap exists in the area north of Greenland in the Lincoln Sea where the Lomonosov Ridge connects to Greenland and Arctic Canada. Understanding the deformation history of this area is clearly critical for constraining the motion of Greenland. The importance of the tectonic history is also important for Arctic Ocean paleoceanography. Potential gateway configurations between Baffin Bay and the Arctic Ocean during the Neogene will clearly be affected by vertical movements of northern Greenland in response to its motion relative to the surrounding plates.

  13. Playing jigsaw with Large Igneous Provinces—A plate tectonic reconstruction of Ontong Java Nui, West Pacific

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2015-11-01

    The three largest Large Igneous Provinces (LIP) of the western Pacific—Ontong Java, Manihiki, and Hikurangi Plateaus—were emplaced during the Cretaceous Normal Superchron and show strong similarities in their geochemistry and petrology. The plate tectonic relationship between those LIPs, herein referred to as Ontong Java Nui, is uncertain, but a joined emplacement was proposed by Taylor (2006). Since this hypothesis is still highly debated and struggles to explain features such as the strong differences in crustal thickness between the different plateaus, we revisited the joined emplacement of Ontong Java Nui in light of new data from the Manihiki Plateau. By evaluating seismic refraction/wide-angle reflection data along with seismic reflection records of the margins of the proposed "Super"-LIP, a detailed scenario for the emplacement and the initial phase of breakup has been developed. The LIP is a result of an interaction of the arriving plume head with the Phoenix-Pacific spreading ridge in the Early Cretaceous. The breakup of the LIP shows a complicated interplay between multiple microplates and tectonic forces such as rifting, shearing, and rotation. Our plate kinematic model of the western Pacific incorporates new evidence from the breakup margins of the LIPs, the tectonic fabric of the seafloor, as well as previously published tectonic concepts such as the rotation of the LIPs. The updated rotation poles of the western Pacific allow a detailed plate tectonic reconstruction of the region during the Cretaceous Normal Superchron and highlight the important role of LIPs in the plate tectonic framework.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lourenço, Diogo; Tackley, Paul

    2015-04-01

    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 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 annulus simulations (Hernlund and Tackley, PEPI 2008) using StagYY (Tackley, PEPI 2008), which uses a finite-volume scheme for advection of temperature, a multigrid solver to obtain a velocity-pressure solution at each timestep, tracers to track composition, and a treatment of partial melting and crustal formation. We address the question whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour as a function of governing parameters. Our results show that melting and crustal production strongly influence plate tectonics on terrestrial planets. For the same parameters the use of a treatment for melting and crustal production facilitates breaking the stagnant-lid, replacing it with episodic-lid; however, a smoothly evolving mobile lid can also be replaced by episode-lid. Several factors can play a role on these, namely lateral heterogeneities, differences in the lid thickness and internal planetary temperatures induced by melting and crustal production.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lourenço, Diogo L.; Tackley, Paul J.

    2014-05-01

    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 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 annulus simulations (Hernlund and Tackley, PEPI 2008) using StagYY (Tackley, PEPI 2008), which uses a finite-volume scheme for advection of temperature, a multigrid solver to obtain a velocity-pressure solution at each timestep, tracers to track composition, and a treatment of partial melting and crustal formation. We address the question whether melting-induced crustal production changes the critical yield stress needed to obtain mobile-lid behaviour as a function of governing parameters. Our results show that melting and crustal production strongly influence plate tectonics on terrestrial planets. For the same parameters the use of a treatment for melting and crustal production facilitates breaking the stagnant-lid, replacing it with episodic-lid; however, a smoothly evolving mobile lid can also be replaced by episode-lid. Several factors can play a role on these, namely lateral heterogeneities, differences in the lid thickness and internal planetary temperatures induced by melting and crustal production.

  16. Missing plate tectonics in Venus caused by rheological contrast at Moho

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Azuma, S.; Katayama, I.; Nakakuki, T.

    2012-12-01

    Venus has been regarded as a twin planet to the Earth, because of density, mass, size and distance from the Sun (Taylor and McLennan, 2008). However, the Magellan mission revealed that plate tectonics is unlikely to work on the Venus (Turcotte et al., 1999). The plate tectonics is one of the most important mechanism of heat transport and material circulation of the Earth, consequently, its absence might cause the different tectonic evolution between Earth and Venus. Rheological structure is a key to inferring mantle structure and convection style of planet interiors because the rock rheology controls strength and viscosity. In previous study, the behavior of Venusian lithosphere has been inferred from the power-law type flow law of dry diabase (Mackwell et al., 1998). They indicated that lower crust can be weaker than upper mantle, which might result decoupling at the crust-mantle boundary (Moho depth) and mantle convection without crustal entrainment. However, the power-law creep may not be applicable to infer the rheological structure at Moho depths, because the dislocation-glide control creep (Peierls mechanism) is known to become dominant at relatively low temperatures in materials with a relatively strong chemical bonding such as silicates (Tsenn and Carter 1987). In this study, we conduct two-phase deformation experiments to directly investigate rheological contrast between plagioclase (crust) and olivine (mantle) using solid-medium deformation apparatus and discuss the difference between these planets in terms of rheological behaviors. Moreover, we conduct numerical simulation utilizing the results of deformation experiments to investigate the effect of the strength contrast between the crust and the mantle to the motion of planetary surface. In this study, we perform experiments to directly investigate the relative strength between plagioclase and olivine without any extrapolating of flow law; the crustal materials consist predominantly of plagioclase that largely control deformation of the crust, whereas deformation of the upper mantle is largely controlled by olivine. These samples are together sandwiched between alumina pistons in a simple shear geometry and we used the hot-pressed samples and perform deformation experiments using solid-medium deformation apparatus. The experimental conditions are ranging 1-2 GPa and 400-1000oC, corresponding conditions approximately to Moho of the Venus at dry and wet conditions. Under wet environments, olivine is weaker than plagioclase at temperature less than 400oC, whereas plagioclase becomes weaker at temperature higher than 600oC. In contrast, under dry conditions, olivine is still weaker than plagioclase at temperature as high as 600oC. Based on microstructures and mechanical data, we found that the deformation mechanism is dominated by Peierls mechanism (dislocation-glide) in each sample under experimental condition. The investigated strength contrast between plagioclase and olivine are applied for the Venus's Moho in numerical simulation, in which the strength contrast at Moho plays a key role on the activation of plate tectonics. In presentation, we will report additional results of deformation experiments, and hope to propose the rheological structure of Venus based on the experimental and numerical results.

  17. Interaction of weak faults and non-newtonian rheology produces plate tectonics in a 3D model of mantle flow

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhong, Shijie; Gurnis, Michael

    1996-09-01

    ACCORDING to the theory of plate tectonics, relatively rigid plates are bounded by large faults; plate motion has negligible internal strain1,2,with significant toroidal component to the velocity3. By contrast, models of mantle flow with viscous rheology in an intact medium predict little toroidal component and substantial internal strain in surface motion4. It has been suggested5 that the observed characteristics of plate motion are related to faulted plate margins, which are observed to be weak6. Here we confirm this suggestion, using three-dimensional models of mantle flow that incorporate faults and the forces exerted on plates by subducting slabs ("slab pull') and mid-ocean ridges ('ridge push'). Our models show that plate-like motion results from the interaction between weak faults and a strain-weakening power-law rheology. Weak transform faults tend to guide plate motion. This guiding effect and the decoupling that occurs at thrust faults may result in oblique subduction. Convergent margins are associated with realistic trench and fore-bulge topography. By simultaneously predicting surface kinematics, topography and gravity, the models achieve a useful degree of tectonic realism.

  18. 3-D Simulation of Tectonic Evolution in Mariana with a Coupled Model of Plate Subduction and Back-Arc Spreading

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hashima, A.; Matsu'Ura, M.

    2006-12-01

    We obtained the expressions for internal deformation fields due to a moment tensor in an elastic-viscoelastic layered holf-space. This unified formulation of internal deformation fields for shear faulting and crack opening enabled us to deal with the problem of tectonic deformation at a composite type of plate boundary zones. The tectonic deformation can be ascribed to mechanical interaction at plate boundaries, which make a closed circuit with the mode of relative plate motion changing from divergence to convergence through transcurrent motion. One of the rational ways to represent mechanical interaction at plate boundaries is specifying the increase rates of normal or tangential displacement discontinuity across plate interfaces. On the basis of such a basic idea we developed a 3-D simulation model for the nonlinear, coupled system of plate subduction and back-arc spreading in Mariana. Through numerical simulations we revealed the evolution process of back-arc spreading. At the first stage, steady plate subduction (shear faulting at a plate interface) gradually forms tensile stress fields in the back-arc region of the overriding plate. When the accumulated tensile stress reaches a critical level, back-arc spreading (crack opening) starts at a structurally weak portion of the overriding plate. The horizontal motion of the frontal part of the overriding plate due to back-arc spreading pushes out the plate boundary toward the oceanic plate. In steady-state plate subduction the shear stress acting on a plate interface must balance with the maximum frictional resistance (shear strength) of the plate interface. Therefore, the increase of shear stress at the plate interface leads to the increase of slip rate at the plate interface. The local increase of slip rate at the plate interface produces the additional tensile stress in the back-arc region. The increased tensile stress must be canceled out by the additional crack opening. Such a feedback mechanism between plate subduction and back-arc spreading is crucial to understand the development of back-ark spreading.

  19. From nanoparticles to plate tectonics : insights for laboratory experiments using colloidal dispersions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Davaille, A.

    2014-12-01

    We recently discovered a material, aqueous dispersions of colloidal nanoparticles, whose rheology depends strongly on solid particle fraction fp, being Newtonian at low fp, and presenting yield stress, shear thinning, elasticity, and brittle properties as fp increases. Moreover, the rheology is time-dependent, with shear stress causing damage, which can heal due to electrostatic interactions between the colloidal particles. The competition between damage and healing results in long-term weak zones. Such a behaviour is analogue to the rheology of mantle rocks as temperature decreases. We therefore undertake a systematic laboratory study of convection in such fluids, where the system is continuously cooled and dried from above and heated or not from below. As the dispersion is dried, a skin ("lithosphere") forms at the surface on the convective fluid, and instabilities develop on several scales as shear bands (0.01 mm-scale), folds (mm-scale), fractures (0.1-10 mm-scale), small-scale convection (cm-scale) and plates (2-20 cm-scale). The system always describes several dynamic regimes through time: an initially very soft lithosphere would result in a stagnant lid regime of convection, which can then evolve in episodic and/or partial subduction, sometimes continuous plate tectonics, and finally stagnant lid. Regime diagrams will be presented as a function of the effective rheology of lithosphere. This "effective" rheology depends on the cascade of instabilities at smaller scales, thanks to which it is much weaker than the material properties measured on small samples.

  20. A plate tectonic-paleoceanographic hypothesis for Cretaceous source rocks and cherts of northern South America

    SciTech Connect

    Villamil, T.; Arango, C.

    1996-12-31

    New paleocontinental reconstructions show a northern migration of the South American Plate with respect to the paleoequator from the Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous. This movement caused the northern margin of South America to migrate from a position south to a position north of the paleoequator. Ekman transport generated net surface water movement towards the south during times when northern South America was south of the paleoequator. This situation favored downwelling and prevented Jurassic and earliest Cretaceous marine source rocks from being deposited. When northern South America was north of the paleoequator Ekman transport forced net water movement to the north favoring upwelling, paleoproductivity, and the deposition of one of the best marine source rocks known (the La Luna, Villeta, and equivalents). This plate tectonic paleoceanographic hypothesis explains the origin of hydrocarbons in northern South America. The stratigraphic record reflects this increase in paleoproductivity through time. This can be observed in facies (non-calcareous shales to calcareous shales to siliceous shales and finally to bedded cherts) and in changing planktic communities which were initially dominated by healthy calcareous foraminifer assemblages, followed by stressed foraminifer populations and finally by radiolarians. Total organic carbon and source rock quality were affected by this long term increase in paleoproductivity but also, and more markedly, by a punctuated sequence stratigraphic record dominated by low- frequency changes in relative sea level. The magnitude of transgressive episodes caused by rise in sea level determined the extent of source rock intervals and indirectly the content of organic carbon.

  1. A plate tectonic-paleoceanographic hypothesis for Cretaceous source rocks and cherts of northern South America

    SciTech Connect

    Villamil, T.; Arango, C. )

    1996-01-01

    New paleocontinental reconstructions show a northern migration of the South American Plate with respect to the paleoequator from the Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous. This movement caused the northern margin of South America to migrate from a position south to a position north of the paleoequator. Ekman transport generated net surface water movement towards the south during times when northern South America was south of the paleoequator. This situation favored downwelling and prevented Jurassic and earliest Cretaceous marine source rocks from being deposited. When northern South America was north of the paleoequator Ekman transport forced net water movement to the north favoring upwelling, paleoproductivity, and the deposition of one of the best marine source rocks known (the La Luna, Villeta, and equivalents). This plate tectonic paleoceanographic hypothesis explains the origin of hydrocarbons in northern South America. The stratigraphic record reflects this increase in paleoproductivity through time. This can be observed in facies (non-calcareous shales to calcareous shales to siliceous shales and finally to bedded cherts) and in changing planktic communities which were initially dominated by healthy calcareous foraminifer assemblages, followed by stressed foraminifer populations and finally by radiolarians. Total organic carbon and source rock quality were affected by this long term increase in paleoproductivity but also, and more markedly, by a punctuated sequence stratigraphic record dominated by low- frequency changes in relative sea level. The magnitude of transgressive episodes caused by rise in sea level determined the extent of source rock intervals and indirectly the content of organic carbon.

  2. Reconstruction of multiple tectonic events in continental margins by integrated tectonostratigraphic and geochronological analysis: the Mesozoic to Paleogene Caribbean-South American interaction in northeastern Colombia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cardona, Agustin; Montes, Camilo; Bayona, German; Valencia, Victor; Ramirez, Diego; Zapata, Sebastian; Lara, Mario; Lopez-Martinez, Margarita; Thomson, Stuart; Weber, Marion

    2013-04-01

    Although the older record and successive tectonic scenarios experienced by a continental margin is commonly fragmentary, integrated field, petrological and geochronological analysis can reconstruct the long term tectonic evolution of continental margins and characterized major controls on the orogenic style. We present new geochronological constraints from igneous and low to very low grade metasedimentary rocks from the Caribbean continental margin of northeastern Colombia (Guajira region) in order to reconstruct the different tectonic events recorded by the margin before, during and following the arc-continent collision with the front of the Caribbean plate. Zircon U-Pb LA-ICP-MS geochronology results from leucogranites associated with garnet amphibolites, tonalites and volcanic rocks that made the continental basement of northeastern Colombia reveals and Early to Middle Mesozoic tectonic activity with peaks at ca. 220-230 Ma and 170-180 Ma. This magmatic record is related to a collisional belt link to the final agglutination of Pangea and was followed by an overimposed far field back-arc setting associated to the subduction of the Pacific (Farrallon) plate under the Pangea supercontinent. Muscovite and biotite Ar-Ar geochronology from basement rocks and low grade Mesozoic metasediments also reveals the existence of Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous thermal events link to the final opening of the proto-Caribbean ocean. The South American continental margin was subsequently affected by an arc-continent collisional event with the front of the Caribbean plate. This event is recorded by the growth of a Banda-type collisional melange that mixed South American continental margin sediments with mafic and ultramafic blocks of intra-oceanic arc origin, the formation of a coherent metasedimentary belt also made of South American margin sediments, and the mylonitization of the continental basement. Ar-Ar temporal constraints on the low grade metasedimentary rocks and detrital apatite fission track ages from younger sedimentary sequences suggest a Late Campanian age for this deformational event. Continuous convergence and the formation of a new subduction zone in the South American margin were responsible for the remobilization of inland extensional structures and the associated growth of an Early Paleocene mylonitic belt. During the Eocene the installation of a short duration magmatic arc and a widespread cooling event record the final installation of an oblique subduction setting. We argue that the pre-collisional tectonic evolution of the South American continental margin have prepare a warm continental margin with significant weakness zone that determined an arc-continent collisional style characterized by frontal accretion of the South American plate over the intra-oceanic Caribbean domain, and in which the younger compressional and thermal events are link to the remobilization of older structures.

  3. Tectonic Events May Have Triggered the Cambrian Explosion

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wendel, JoAnna

    2014-11-01

    Major geological changes causing sea level rise at the start of the Cambrian period (540-490 million years ago) could have kick-started the Cambrian Explosion—a geological time period when most major phyla of life suddenly appeared in the fossil record. A paper published in the November issue of Geology (doi:10.1130/G35886.1) proposes a new geological mechanism for this event.

  4. Links Between Long-Lived Hot Spots, Mantle Plumes, D'', and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jellinek, A. Mark; Manga, Michael

    2004-09-01

    The existence, spatial distribution, and style of volcanism on terrestrial planets is an expression of their internal dynamics and evolution. On Earth a physical link has been proposed between hot spots, regions with particularly persistent, localized, and high rates of volcanism, and underlying deep mantle plumes. Such mantle plumes are thought to be constructed of large spherical heads and narrow trailing conduits. This plume model has provided a way to interpret observable phenomena including the volcanological, petrological, and geochemical evolution of ocean island volcanoes, the relative motion of plates, continental breakup, global heat flow, and the Earth's magnetic field within the broader framework of the thermal history of our planet. Despite the plume model's utility the underlying dynamics giving rise to hot spots as long-lived stable features have remained elusive. Accordingly, in this review we combine results from new and published observational, analog, theoretical, and numerical studies to address two key questions: (1) Why might mantle plumes in the Earth have a head-tail structure? (2) How can mantle plumes and hot spots persist for large geological times? We show first that the characteristic head-tail structure of mantle plumes, which is a consequence of hot upwellings having a low viscosity, is likely a result of strong cooling of the mantle by large-scale stirring driven by plate tectonics. Second, we show that the head-tail structure of such plumes is a necessary but insufficient condition for their longevity. Third, we synthesize seismological, geodynamic, geomagnetic, and geochemical constraints on the structure and composition of the lowermost mantle to argue that the source regions for most deep mantle plumes contain dense, low-viscosity material within D'' composed of partial melt, outer core material, or a mixture of both (i.e., a ``dense layer''). Fourth, using results from laboratory experiments on thermochemical convection and new theoretical scaling analyses, we argue that the longevity of mantle plumes in the Earth is a consequence of the interactions between plate tectonics, core cooling, and dense, low-viscosity material within D''. Conditions leading to Earth-like mantle plumes are highly specific and may thus be unique to our own planet. Furthermore, long-lived hot spots should not a priori be anticipated on other terrestrial planets and moons. Our analysis leads to self-consistent predictions for the longevity of mantle plumes, topography on the dense layer, and composition of ocean island basalts that are consistent with observations.

  5. Supercontinents, mantle dynamics and plate tectonics: A perspective based on conceptual vs. numerical models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yoshida, Masaki; Santosh, M.

    2011-03-01

    The periodic assembly and dispersal of supercontinents through the history of the Earth had considerable impact on mantle dynamics and surface processes. Here we synthesize some of the conceptual models on supercontinent amalgamation and disruption and combine it with recent information from numerical studies to provide a unified approach in understanding Wilson Cycle and supercontinent cycle. Plate tectonic models predict that superdownwelling along multiple subduction zones might provide an effective mechanism to pull together dispersed continental fragments into a closely packed assembly. The recycled subducted material that accumulates at the mantle transition zone and sinks down into the core-mantle boundary (CMB) provides the potential fuel for the generation of plumes and superplumes which ultimately fragment the supercontinent. Geological evidence related to the disruption of two major supercontinents (Columbia and Gondwana) attest to the involvement of plumes. The re-assembly of dispersed continental fragments after the breakup of a supercontinent occurs through complex processes involving 'introversion', 'extroversion' or a combination of both, with the closure of the intervening ocean occurring through Pacific-type or Atlantic-type processes. The timescales of the assembly and dispersion of supercontinents have varied through the Earth history, and appear to be closely linked with the processes and duration of superplume genesis. The widely held view that the volume of continental crust has increased over time has been challenged in recent works and current models propose that plate tectonics creates and destroys Earth's continental crust with more crust being destroyed than created. The creation-destruction balance changes over a supercontinent cycle, with a higher crustal growth through magmatic influx during supercontinent break-up as compared to the tectonic erosion and sediment-trapped subduction in convergent margins associated with supercontinent assembly which erodes the continental crust. Ongoing subduction erosion also occurs at the leading edges of dispersing plates, which also contributes to crustal destruction, although this is only a temporary process. The previous numerical studies of mantle convection suggested that there is a significant feedback between mantle convection and continental drift. The process of assembly of supercontinents induces a temperature increase beneath the supercontinent due to the thermal insulating effect. Such thermal insulation leads to a planetary-scale reorganization of mantle flow and results in longest-wavelength thermal heterogeneity in the mantle, i.e., degree-one convection in three-dimensional spherical geometry. The formation of degree-one convection seems to be integral to the emergence of periodic supercontinent cycles. The rifting and breakup of supercontinental assemblies may be caused by either tensional stress due to the thermal insulating effect, or large-scale partial melting resulting from the flow reorganization and consequent temperature increase beneath the supercontinent. Supercontinent breakup has also been correlated with the temperature increase due to upwelling plumes originating from the deeper lower mantle or CMB as a return flow of plate subduction occurring at supercontinental margins. The active mantle plumes from the CMB may disrupt the regularity of supercontinent cycles. Two end-member scenarios can be envisaged for the mantle convection cycle. One is that mantle convection with dispersing continental blocks has a short-wavelength structure, or close to degree-two structure as the present Earth, and when a supercontinent forms, mantle convection evolves into degree-one structure. Another is that mantle convection with dispersing continental blocks has a degree-one structure, and when a supercontinent forms, mantle convection evolves into degree-two structure. In the case of the former model, it would take longer time to form a supercontinent, because continental blocks would be trapped by different downwellings thus inhibiting collis

  6. Time variability in Cenozoic reconstructions of mantle heat flow: plate tectonic cycles and implications for Earth's thermal evolution.

    PubMed

    Loyd, S J; Becker, T W; Conrad, C P; Lithgow-Bertelloni, C; Corsetti, F A

    2007-09-01

    The thermal evolution of Earth is governed by the rate of secular cooling and the amount of radiogenic heating. If mantle heat sources are known, surface heat flow at different times may be used to deduce the efficiency of convective cooling and ultimately the temporal character of plate tectonics. We estimate global heat flow from 65 Ma to the present using seafloor age reconstructions and a modified half-space cooling model, and we find that heat flow has decreased by approximately 0.15% every million years during the Cenozoic. By examining geometric trends in plate reconstructions since 120 Ma, we show that the reduction in heat flow is due to a decrease in the area of ridge-proximal oceanic crust. Even accounting for uncertainties in plate reconstructions, the rate of heat flow decrease is an order of magnitude faster than estimates based on smooth, parameterized cooling models. This implies that heat flow experiences short-term fluctuations associated with plate tectonic cyclicity. Continental separation does not appear to directly control convective wavelengths, but rather indirectly affects how oceanic plate systems adjust to accommodate global heat transport. Given that today's heat flow may be unusually low, secular cooling rates estimated from present-day values will tend to underestimate the average cooling rate. Thus, a mechanism that causes less efficient tectonic heat transport at higher temperatures may be required to prevent an unreasonably hot mantle in the recent past. PMID:17720806

  7. Plate tectonic controls on atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van der Meer, Douwe; Zeebe, Richard; van Hinsbergen, Douwe; Sluijs, Appy; Spakman, Wim; Torsvik, Trond

    2014-05-01

    Climate trends on time-scales of 10's to 100's of millions of years are controlled by changes in solar luminosity, continent distribution and atmosphere composition. Plate tectonics affect geography, but also atmosphere composition through volcanic degassing of CO2 at subduction zones and mid-ocean ridges. So far, such degassing estimates were based on reconstructions of ocean floor production for the last 150 Million years (Myr) and indirectly, through sea level inversion before 150 Myr. Here we quantitatively estimate CO2 degassing by reconstructing lithosphere subduction evolution, using recent advances in combining global plate reconstructions and present-day structure of the mantle. First, we estimate that since the Triassic (250-200 Myr) until Present, the total paleo-subduction zone length reached up to ~200% of the present-day value. Comparing our subduction zone lengths with previously reconstructed ocean-crust production rates over the past 140 Myr suggests average global subduction rates have been constant, ~6 cm/year: Higher ocean-crust production is associated with longer total subduction length. We compute a Strontium isotope record based on subduction zone length, which agrees well with geological records supporting the validity of our approach: The total subduction zone length is proportional to the summed arc- and ridge volcanic CO2 production and thereby to global volcanic degassing at plate boundaries. We therefore use our degassing curve as input for the GEOCARBSULF model to estimate atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic. Our calculated CO2 levels for the mid-Mesozoic differ from previous modeling results and are more consistent with available proxy data.

  8. Plate tectonic controls on atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic.

    PubMed

    Van Der Meer, Douwe G; Zeebe, Richard E; van Hinsbergen, Douwe J J; Sluijs, Appy; Spakman, Wim; Torsvik, Trond H

    2014-03-25

    Climate trends on timescales of 10s to 100s of millions of years are controlled by changes in solar luminosity, continent distribution, and atmosphere composition. Plate tectonics affect geography, but also atmosphere composition through volcanic degassing of CO2 at subduction zones and midocean ridges. So far, such degassing estimates were based on reconstructions of ocean floor production for the last 150 My and indirectly, through sea level inversion before 150 My. Here we quantitatively estimate CO2 degassing by reconstructing lithosphere subduction evolution, using recent advances in combining global plate reconstructions and present-day structure of the mantle. First, we estimate that since the Triassic (250-200 My) until the present, the total paleosubduction-zone length reached up to ∼200% of the present-day value. Comparing our subduction-zone lengths with previously reconstructed ocean-crust production rates over the past 140 My suggests average global subduction rates have been constant, ∼6 cm/y: Higher ocean-crust production is associated with longer total subduction length. We compute a strontium isotope record based on subduction-zone length, which agrees well with geological records supporting the validity of our approach: The total subduction-zone length is proportional to the summed arc and ridge volcanic CO2 production and thereby to global volcanic degassing at plate boundaries. We therefore use our degassing curve as input for the GEOCARBSULF model to estimate atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic. Our calculated CO2 levels for the mid Mesozoic differ from previous modeling results and are more consistent with available proxy data. PMID:24616495

  9. Plate tectonic controls on atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic

    PubMed Central

    Van Der Meer, Douwe G.; Zeebe, Richard E.; van Hinsbergen, Douwe J. J.; Sluijs, Appy; Spakman, Wim; Torsvik, Trond H.

    2014-01-01

    Climate trends on timescales of 10s to 100s of millions of years are controlled by changes in solar luminosity, continent distribution, and atmosphere composition. Plate tectonics affect geography, but also atmosphere composition through volcanic degassing of CO2 at subduction zones and midocean ridges. So far, such degassing estimates were based on reconstructions of ocean floor production for the last 150 My and indirectly, through sea level inversion before 150 My. Here we quantitatively estimate CO2 degassing by reconstructing lithosphere subduction evolution, using recent advances in combining global plate reconstructions and present-day structure of the mantle. First, we estimate that since the Triassic (250–200 My) until the present, the total paleosubduction-zone length reached up to ∼200% of the present-day value. Comparing our subduction-zone lengths with previously reconstructed ocean-crust production rates over the past 140 My suggests average global subduction rates have been constant, ∼6 cm/y: Higher ocean-crust production is associated with longer total subduction length. We compute a strontium isotope record based on subduction-zone length, which agrees well with geological records supporting the validity of our approach: The total subduction-zone length is proportional to the summed arc and ridge volcanic CO2 production and thereby to global volcanic degassing at plate boundaries. We therefore use our degassing curve as input for the GEOCARBSULF model to estimate atmospheric CO2 levels since the Triassic. Our calculated CO2 levels for the mid Mesozoic differ from previous modeling results and are more consistent with available proxy data. PMID:24616495

  10. Tectonic lineaments in the cenozoic volcanics of southern Guatemala: Evidence for a broad continental plate boundary zone

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Baltuck, M.; Dixon, T. H.

    1984-01-01

    The northern Caribbean plate boundary has been undergoing left lateral strike slip motion since middle Tertiary time. The western part of the boundary occurs in a complex tectonic zone in the continental crust of Guatemala and southernmost Mexico, along the Chixoy-Polochic, Motogua and possibly Jocotan-Chamelecon faults. Prominent lineaments visible in radar imagery in the Neogene volcanic belt of southern Guatemala and western El Salvador were mapped and interpreted to suggest southwest extensions of this already broad plate boundary zone. Because these extensions can be traced beneath Quaternary volcanic cover, it is thought that this newly mapped fault zone is active and is accommodating some of the strain related to motion between the North American and Caribbean plates. Onshore exposures of the Motoqua-Polochic fault systems are characterized by abundant, tectonically emplaced ultramafic rocks. A similar mode of emplacement for these off shore ultramafics, is suggested.

  11. Characteristics of the Cenozoic crustal deformations in SE Korea and its vicinity due to major tectonic events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Son, M.; Kim, J.; Song, C.; Sohn, Y.; Kim, I.

    2010-12-01

    The southeastern Korean Peninsula has experienced multiple crustal deformations according to changes of global tectonic setting during the Cenozoic. Characteristics of the crustal deformations in relation to major Cenozoic tectonic events are summarized as follows. (1) Collision of Indian and Eurasian continents and abrupt change of movement direction of the Pacific plate (50 ~ 43 Ma): The collision of Indian and Eurasian continents caused the eastward extrusion of East Asia block as a trench-rollback, and then the movement direction of the Pacific plate was abruptly changed from NNW to WNW. As a result, the strong suction-force along the plate boundary produced a tensional stress field trending EW or WNW-ESE in southeastern Korea, which resultantly induced the passive intrusion of NS or NNE trending mafic dike swarm pervasively. (2) Opening of the East Sea (25 ~ 16 Ma): The NS or NNW-SSE trending opening of the East Sea generated a dextral shear stress regime trending NNW-SSE along the eastern coast line of the Korean Peninsula. As a result, pull-apart basins were developed in right bending and overstepping parts along major dextral strike slip faults trending NNW-SSE in southeastern Korea. The basins can be divided into two types on the basis of geometry and kinematics: Parallelogram-shaped basin (rhombochasm) and wedged-shaped basin (sphenochasm), respectively. At that time, the basins and adjacent basement blocks experienced clockwise rotation and northwestward tilting, and the eastward propagating rifting also occurred. At about 17 Ma, the Yeonil Tectonic Line, which is the westernmost border fault of the Miocene crustal deformation in southeastern Korea, began to move as a major dextral strike slip fault. (3) Clockwise rotation of southeastern Japan Island (16~15 Ma): The collision of the Izu-Bonin Arc and southeastern Japan Island, as a result of northward movement of the Philippine sea-plate, induced the clockwise rotation of southeastern Japan Islands. The event caused a NW-SE compression in the Korea Strait as a tectonic inversion, which resultantly terminated the basin extension and caused locally counterclockwise rotation of blocks in southeastern Korea. At that time, the folding of the San'in folded zone commenced. The folding in the Tsushima Island was almost completely accomplished at about 15 Ma and then an extensive intrusion of felsic magma occurred in the southern part of the island which led the island to be tilted about 20 into northeast. Simultaneously, the Tsushima-Goto fault was reactivated as major sinistral strike-slip faults owing to the accumulated NNW-trending compressional stress. The adjacent blocks to the fault were rotated horizontally about 28 counterclockwise due to the sinistral movement, and resultantly the western part of the San'in folded zone was dragged counterclockwise. (4) E-W compression in the East Asia (after about 5 Ma): Decreasing subduction angle of the Pacific plate and eastward movement of the Amurian plate have constructed the-top-to-west thrusts and become a major cause for earthquakes in southeastern Korea.

  12. Geochronological control for the main tectonic-magmatic events of Ecuador

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hall, Minard L.; Calle, Jorge

    1982-11-01

    A chronological outline of the principal tectonic-magmatic events of Ecuador is presented, based upon approximately 100 K/Ar and Rb/Sr age determinations. Eight magmatic episodes are recognized. In southwestern Ecuador evidence of plutonic and metamorphic activity in the Late Precambrian and in the Middle to Late Triassic is found. Large granitic batholiths of Middle to Late Jurassic age, associated with widespread acidic volcanism, are traceable along the eastern flank of the Andes into Colombia. Early Cretaceous volcanism and plutonism is recognized only in southern Ecuador, although apparently equivalent units continue southwards into the Coastal Cordillera of Peru. A great orogenic belt, characterized by metamorphism, plutonism, and volcanism, was established in the Late Cretaceous and continued through the Paleogene. It is traceable into Peru and Colombia. The Macuchi Fm. of the Western Cordillera along with the Pinn Fm. and associated sediments of the coastal zone represent the remnants of an island arc and the adjacent oceanic floor, respectively, that collided with the South American Plate during the Eocene ( Feininger, 1981). In the Neogene, quartz dioritic intrusions were emplaced in the Western Cordillera as well as in the Cordillera de Muelleturo, although apparently at different times. In the Late Oligocene and Miocene acidic volcanism is noted in the southern Ecuadorian Andes, but not in the north. In the Quaternary, andesitic volcanism and large stratovolcanoes characterize the northern Andes, while widespread rhyolitic ashflow activity is noted in the southern Andes. In Ecuador, the post-Triassic magmatic episodes show a westerly migration, similar to that found in Colombia, but opposite to that noted in Peru.

  13. The interpretation of crustal dynamics data in terms of plate interactions and active tectonics of the Anatolian plate and surrounding regions in the Middle East

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoz, M. Nafi; Reilinger, Robert

    1992-01-01

    A detailed study was made of the consequences of the Arabian plate convergence against Eurasia and its effects on the tectonics of Anatolia and surrounding regions of the eastern Mediterranean. A primary source of information is time rates of change of baseline lengths and relative heights determined by repeated SLR measurements. These SLR observations are augmented by a network of GPS stations in Anatolia, Aegea, and Greece, established and twice surveyed since 1988. The existing SLR and GPS networks provide the spatial resolution necessary to reveal the details of ongoing tectonic processes in this area of continental collision. The effort has involved examining the state of stress in the lithosphere and relative plate motions as revealed by these space based geodetic measurements, seismicity, and earthquake mechanisms as well as the aseismic deformations of the plates from conventional geodetic data and geological evidence. These observations are used to constrain theoretical calculations of the relative effects of: (1) the push of the Arabian plate; (2) high topography of Eastern Anatolia; (3) the geometry and properties of African-Eurasian plate boundary; (4) subduction under the Hellenic Arc and southwestern Turkey; and (5) internal deformation and rotation of the Anatolian plate.

  14. Cenozoic East Asia plate tectonic reconstructions using constraints of mapped and unfolded slabs from mantle seismic tomography

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wu, J. E.; Suppe, J.; Kanda, R. V.

    2012-12-01

    Subducted slabs were mapped in the mantle under East Asia using MITP08 global seismic tomography (Li et al., 2008), Benioff zone seismicities and published local tomography. 3D gridded slab surfaces were constructed by manually picking and correlating the midpoint of fast seismic anomalies along variable cross-section orientations. The mapped slabs were structurally 'unfolded' and restored to the spherical Earth surface to assess their pre-subduction geometries. Gplates software was used to constrain plate tectonic reconstructions using the unfolded slabs. The unfolded SE Asia upper mantle slabs reveal a 'picture puzzle' fit along their edges that suggests a larger NE Indo-Australian ocean once existed that included the Philippine Sea, Molucca Sea and Celebes Sea. Deeper lower mantle detached slabs indicate an early to mid-Cenozoic 'East Asia Sea' between east Sundaland and the Pacific that stretched from the Ryukyu Islands north of present-day Taiwan southward to Sulawesi. The unfolded slab constraints produced gap and overlap incompatibilities when used in published plate tectonic reconstructions. Here a plate tectonic reconstruction incorporating the unfolded slab constraints is proposed that has the Philippine Sea, Molucca Sea and Celebes Sea clustered at the northern margin of Australia during the early Cenozoic. At the mid-Cenozoic these plates moved NNE with 'Australia-like' plate motions and overrode the 'East Asia Sea'. Plate motions were accommodated by N-S transforms at the eastern margin of Sundaland. Between 25 to 15 Ma the Philippine Sea, Molucca Sea and Celebes Sea plates were fragmented from the greater Indo-Australian ocean. The Philippine Sea was captured by the Pacific plate and now has Pacific-like westward motions.

  15. Meso-Cenozoic intraplate contraction in Central and Western Europe: a unique tectonic event?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kley, Jonas; Jhne, Fabian; Malz, Alexander

    2014-05-01

    From the British Isles to Poland, Europe experienced contractional deformation in Late Cretaceous and Paleogene time. The closest contemporaneous plate margins were the incipient Mid-Atlantic rift in the west and northwest, and the Mediterranean system of subduction zones in the south. Each of these plate margins was located more than 1000 km away from the site of deformation. This tectonic event thus represents an outstanding example of large-scale intraplate shortening and may serve as a template for comparison with modern examples. Its effects are seen in a ca. 500 km wide strip that stretches in NW-SE-direction along the Tornquist Line, a regional fault zone separating thick lithosphere of the Baltic Shield from much thinner lithosphere to the southwest. Most faults and folds also trend NW-SE, but some are linked by large N-S-striking transfer zones. In the southeast, the shortening structures are truncated by the Neogene Carpathian thrust front; their original extent is unknown. In the west, the fault zones fan out into more northerly trends in the Central North Sea and more easterly trends in the Channel area before dying out on the shelf. Late Cretaceous (ca. 90-70 Ma) shortening dominates from Poland to the North Sea, while the main shortening event in Southern Britain is of Paleogene age. Many Late Cretaceous to Paleogene structures have been conditioned by Permian or Triassic through Early Cretaceous extensional faulting, whereas some large basement uplifts and reverse faults have no demonstrable inheritance from earlier extension. The thick, mobile Zechstein salt has modified extensional and contractional structures, but both extend beyond its depositional borders. Even where thick evaporates underlie the Mesozoic sedimentary cover, the basement is typically involved in the deformation, except for localized thin-skinned imbricate thrusting and salt-cored anticlines. Different structural styles do not appear to correlate with the magnitude of shortening which is similar for transects across the inverted Lower Saxony Basin and areas of predominant basement thrusting. Bulk contraction of the entire deformed belt is unlikely to exceed a few tens of kilometers, corresponding to <<10% of horizontal shortening. Shortening rate estimates are around 1 mm/yr both for well-constrained local structures and for order-of-magnitude estimates of the entire belt, suggesting that a limited number of faults were active at any given time. Space geodetic data indicate similar modern shortening rates across Central Europe on a decade scale, but there is no geologic evidence for focused deformation comparable to the Mesozoic event. Fold orientations, fault slip data and stylolite teeth indicate relatively uniform, SSW-NNE-directed shortening. This direction is consistent with the convergence direction of Africa, Iberia and Eurasia that was established between ca. 120 Ma and 85 Ma in the course of global plate motion reorganization. The European short-lived pulse of intraplate deformation was apparently caused by a switch to near-orthogonal convergence across former transform boundaries, whereas modern examples of intraplate shortening seem to be bound to coeval orogens.

  16. GIS-based Reconstruction of Pangaea with Recent Progresses in Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kwon, O.-H.; Cheong, H.-B.; Lee, Y.-W.

    2012-04-01

    It is now widely accepted that the continents or land masses are constantly, slowly moving, or drifting over the asthenosphere as the sea floors spread in response to the mantle convection. These continents were joined together at one time, some 250 million years ago, in a single giant landmass called Pangaea. Alfred Wegener, who proposed originally the hypothesis of continental drift, succeeded in reconstructing the Pangaea in early 20th century, by gathering evidences such as land features, fossils, and climate change. The shape of Pangaea shown by Wegener is a huge landmass which is in rounded shape close to an oval. The Pangaea of Wegener was found to be in good agreement with the supercontinent which was reconstructed by modern scientists in late 1960s based on concrete and sophisticated sciences such as the plate tectonics. There are a couple of shapes describing the Pangaea by now, other than the Wegener's, that are recognized by the geological community. In spite of profound geological data and development of related-area sciences, uncertainties still remains on the precise shape of Pangaea before the stage of breaking up and drifting apart. In this study, the Pangaea is reconstructed taking the recent progresses of plate tectonics into full consideration with the use of an elaborate Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping technique. For a better visualization of the shape of the supercontinent the equidistant map projection is incorporated to display the Pangaea, where the central point of Pangaea is placed on the center of the map. The Pangaea reconstructed in this way appears in an almost circular shape, which has never been seen in previous studies (Fig. 1). The radius of the circle which circumscribes the Pangaea is about 9 000 km, giving the total area slightly above that of continents and lands of present day, because some of the continental margins were considered as a part of continents. This result suggests us that the Pangaea might have existed in an exact circular shape until it started to break into parts. Comparing the Pangaea to the present geography reveals that the Pangaea's geometric center falls on somewhere in Sinai Peninsula. One of notable features of the Pangaea reconstructed in this study is that there are two inland seas in circular shape: One is small and corresponds to Tethis sea, and the other corresponding to present Arctic ocean is several times larger than Tethis. From the geological viewpoint, these inland seas seem to be the oceanic crusts located inside the continental crusts, and it is likely that they were connected to the Panthalassa by sea. The main result of the present study that the Pangaea appears to be a circle may give us much more important implication than just being in a beautiful geometric configuration. Figure 1 Pangaea on a equidistant projection map, reconstructed with the use of GIS technique incorporating recent progresses in plate tectonics.

  17. Tectonics of the Philippine Sea Plate as Seen From GPS Observations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kato, T.; Kotake, Y.

    2002-12-01

    We analyzed the Global Positioning System (GPS) data in and around the Philippine Sea plate (PHS) to provide a velocity field for discussing tectonics of the plate and the mechanism of subduction process around PHS. In the present study, first, we revised the previously determined Euler vector of PHS relative to stable Eurasia using newly obtained data. Eastern part of Europe was assumed to be in a rigid block according to Nocquet et al. (2001) and we estimated the seven parameters of Helmert Transformation of this block relative to ITRF97. Then these parameters were used to estimate the Euler vector of PHS relative to stable Eurasia. For this purpose, we re-analyzed GPS data of up until 2001 at Chichi-jima, Okino-Tori Shima, Minami-Daito, Palau, Aogashima and Hachijo islands in ITRF97 reference together with surrounding IGS sites. Results suggest that the Euler vector of PHS relative to _gstable Eurasia_h is to be (61.4N, 163.7E, 1.003deg/my). Contrary to our previous estimate, the result suggests that Palau may be considered as in the rigid part of PHS. In contrast, the northern Izu islands are suggested to be affected by local volcanic disturbances. Then, we studied tectonic motions of Mariana arc and Palau-Yap arc. The Mariana Islands have been repeatedly observed since 1992. Kotake (2000) analyzed data at Anatahan, Guguan, Pagan and Agrigan as well as Saipan and Guam sites and showed that the velocities are much slower than what we expect from rigid motion of PHS. Residual velocities at these islands clearly show eastward motion of the Mariana Islands, suggesting that the Mariana Islands are subject to the spreading of the Mariana Trough. The rotation pole of the Mariana block was re-estimated as (20.6N, 145.2E) and angular velocity to be 4.17deg/ma, according to the re-estimated PHS motion. The position of the rotation pole is a few degrees south to the geographical hinge point of the Mariana arc and west Mariana ridge at about 24N. Estimated eastward velocities at these islands are consistent with those estimated from magnetic anomaly observations. Small arc parallel extension of about 1cm/yr between Agrigan and Guam suggest that the formation of the arc is not simple fan-shape expansion, as was indicated by Karig et al. (1978). Convergence at Yap trench has also been studied using GPS. Motions of Uliti and Fais suggest slight convergence at Yap trench with about 1cm/yr, but have some northward component relative to the trench.

  18. Large-Scale Present-Day Plate Boundary Deformations in the Eastern Hemisphere Determined from VLBI Data: Implications for Plate Tectonics and Indian Ocean Growth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Akilan, A.; Abdul Azeez, K. K.; Schuh, H.; Yuvraaj, N.

    2015-10-01

    The dynamics of the planet Earth are manifestations of diverse plate tectonic processes which have been occurring since the Archean period of the Earth's evolution and continue to deform the plate boundaries. Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) is an efficient space geodetic method that enables precise measurement of plate motion and associated deformations. We analyze here VLBI measurements made during a period of approximately three decades at five locations on the Eastern hemisphere of the globe, which are geographically distributed over five continents (plates) around the Indian Ocean. Computed rate of change of baseline length show the deformation pattern and its rate at the boundaries between the major tectonic plates constituting the Eastern hemisphere of the Earth. The African (Nubian) and Antarctic plates are moving apart at 13.5 mm/year, which is mostly attributed to spreading of the South West Indian Ridge. Similarly, spreading of 59.0 mm/year is observed for the South East Indian Ridge that separates the Antarctic and Australian plates. Shortening at the rate of 3.9 mm/year is estimated across the subduction boundary between Africa (Nubia) and Eurasia. Similar convergence is evident between the Australian and Sunda blocks (of the Eurasian plate). The associated deformation of -54.8 mm/year seems to be chiefly accommodated along the Banda arc system, where the Australian plate is subducting under the Sunda block. VLBI sites within the Eurasian plate, Wettzell in Germany, and Seshan on the South China block, are moving apart at 3.6 mm/year. This relative motion between locations on the same plate is interpreted as a result of the deformation process along a large strike-slip fault, which is identified as the Western boundary of the South China block. Expansion of the Indian Ocean, at +91.5 m2/year, is also estimated from the rate of deformation estimated within the five baselines studied here. From the Hurst exponent values, which are indicators of the future trend of time series data, we predict deceleration of the various tectonic processes occurring at present.

  19. Dual subduction tectonics and plate dynamics of central Japan shown by three-dimensional P-wave anisotropic structure

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ishise, Motoko; Miyake, Hiroe; Koketsu, Kazuki

    2015-07-01

    The central Japanese subduction zone is characterized by a complex tectonic setting affected by the dual subduction of oceanic plates and collisions between the island arcs. To better understand of the subduction system, we performed an anisotropic tomography analysis using P-wave arrival times from local earthquakes to determine the three-dimensional structure of P-wave azimuthal anisotropy in the overriding plate and the Pacific and Philippine Sea (PHS) slabs. The principal characteristics of anisotropy in the subducted and subducting plates are (1) in the overriding plate, the distribution pattern of fast direction of crustal anisotropy coincides with that of the strike of geological structure, (2) in the two oceanic plates, fast propagation directions of P-wave were sub-parallel to the directions of seafloor spreading. Additionally, our tomographic images demonstrate that (1) the bottom of the Median Tectonic Line, the longest fault zone in Japan, reaches to the lower crust, and seems to link to the source region of an inter-plate earthquake along the PHS slab, (2) the segmentation of the PHS slab - the Izu Islands arc, the Nishi-Shichito ridge, and the Shikoku basin - due to the formation history, is reflected in the regional variation of anisotropy. The tomographic study further implies that there might be a fragment of the Pacific slab suggested by a previous study beneath the Tokyo metropolitan area. The overall findings strongly indicate that seismic anisotropy analysis provide potentially useful information to understand a subduction zone.

  20. Tectonic events recorded in the sediments and crust of the Caribbean sea floor

    SciTech Connect

    Holcombe, T.L.

    1985-01-01

    A reconnaissance review of reflection-seismic sections from the Caribbean, together with limited information derived from dredged rocks, sediment cores, and drillholes, yields or contributes to first-order conclusions regarding the tectonic history of the water-covered Caribbean. Broadly speaking, tectonic episodes for which there is some evidence are: (1) late Cenozoic convergence and accretion along deformed continental or island margins off Panama, Colombia/Venezuela, and Hispaniola/Puerto Rico; (2) late Cenozoic generation of oceanic crust within the Cayman Trough; (3) late Cenozoic secondary deformation along the Caribbean-North American plate boundary zone, in the form of small pull-apart basins, transcurrent faults, tensional rift basins, and compressional features; (4) late Cenozoic slow disintegration of the western part of the Caribbean plate; (5) Cenozoic rift-basin formation on the upper Nicaraguan rise; (6) early Cenozoic or late Cretaceous opening of the Yucatan Basin; (7) late Cretaceous through early Cenozoic island arc formation; and (8) late Cretaceous and earlier emplacement of flow basalts in the northwestern Venezuelan Basin and possibly beneath large areas of the Caribbean. There is no evidence that except along their active margins, the Venezuelan Basin, Beata Ridge, Colombian Basin, and Nicaraguan rise areas have been sites for large-scale relative movements which created or destroyed plate material since late Cretaceous time - or earlier.

  1. Large Igneous Provinces and supercontinents: Toward completing the plate tectonic revolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ernst, Richard E.; Bleeker, Wouter; Sderlund, Ulf; Kerr, Andrew C.

    2013-08-01

    Regional groupings of a majority, or all, of Earth's crustal blocks have occurred several times in Earth history, but only the most recent supercontinent Paleozoic Pangea/Gondwana, is well characterized. Prior Precambrian supercontinents are postulated: Rodinia (ca. 1 to 0.7 Ga), Nuna/Columbia (ca. 1.8 to 1.3 Ga) and Kenorland/supercratons (ca. > 2.7 to 2.0 Ga), but the configuration of each is poorly known. A new methodology using Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) offers an opportunity for fast-tracking progress toward robust Precambrian reconstructions. Comparison of the LIP barcode' record between crustal blocks allows identification of which blocks were likely to have been nearest neighbors in past supercontinents. Restoration of the primary geometry (radiating or linear) of regional dyke swarms (the plumbing system of LIPs) offers another reconstruction criterion. A consortium of companies is providing funding for dating of essentially all major regional dyke swarms and sill provinces to complete the barcoding of all major crustal blocks, and 13 of the papers in this special issue provides examples of this progress. Seven additional papers provide overviews of important LIPs. Together these 20 papers illustrate the potential for rapid progress using the LIP record for Precambrian supercontinent reconstructions toward completing the plate tectonic revolution which began nearly five decades ago.

  2. Development of Caribbean plate tectonics: A contribution from oil exploration in Venezuela

    SciTech Connect

    Fuentes, J. ); Oum, S. ); Lander, R. )

    1990-05-01

    Following several huge oil and gas discoveries during the mid-1980s in the Northern Venezuela overthrust belt more detailed geological and geophysical studies have increased their perception of structural control on sedimentary basin development. Significant improvements in seismic data quality and seismic lines positioned close to outcrops of the frontal thrust give evidence of Miocene to Pleistocene thin-skinned tectonics as the mechanism of the formation of the overthrust belt of the Serrania del Interior. The authors conclude that the thrust sheet was formed by the effects of major right-lateral transcurrent movements along the El Pilar fault system, which forced metasediments against thick Miocene clastics in pull-apart basins. These basins were created earlier by strike-slip motions of preexisting parallel en-echelon normal faults. The eastwardly mobile Caribbean plate boundary and its evolution from a collision to a transpression zone is documented and a new approach to an evaluation of oil and gas potential is made of multiple reservoirs in stacked, folded thrust sheets.

  3. Tectonic and depositional model of the Arabian and adjoining plates during the Silurian-Devonian

    SciTech Connect

    Husseini, M.I. )

    1991-01-01

    During the Late Ordovician and Early Silurian, the western part of the Arabian Peninsula was covered by polar glaciers that advanced from the south pole in African Gondwana. During this period, nondeposition, erosion, or marginal marine conditions prevailed in eastern and northern Arabia. When the glaciers melted in the Early Silurian, sea level rose sharply and the paleo-Tethys Ocean transgressed the Arabian and adjoining plates depositing a thick, organic-rich shale directly over the glaciogenic and periglacial rocks and related unconformities. The post-glacial sequence coarsens upward reflecting the passage of a coastline prograding northward from African and Arabian Gondwana to northern Arabia. A sea level drop in the Late Silurian placed the study area in a terrestrial environment; however, as sea level recovered in the Early Devonian, a carbonate sequence blanketed most of the area. The transgression, however, was interrupted by regional uplift and local orogenic movements in the Middle and Late Devonian. These movements constitute the onset of Hercynian tectonism, which resulted in erosion of the older sequences, depositional hiatuses, and regional facies changes.

  4. A Lower Paleozoic Plate Tectonic Model for the North Qilian Mountains, NW China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yang, H.; Tseng, C.; Zuo, G.; Wu, H.; Xu, Z.; Yang, J.

    2003-12-01

    The north Qilian mountains are a strongly-lineated Caledonian fold belt. Their mountain ranges, major rivers, fold axes, fault lines, and the spatial distribution of major rock types are all more or less parallel to one another and trend in NWW-SEE direction. The Caledonian plate tectonic structures have still been well preserved despite modifications by the Indosinian and Himalayan crustal disturbances. The north Qilian mountains may be considered as a plate suture zone which sutured the Alashan craton and the central-south Qilian craton in the lower Paleozoic time. This suture zone consists of an active continental margin, a passive continental margin, and an intervening oceanic domain. The southern margin of the Alashan craton was an active continental margin in the lower Paleozoic time, on which continental margin arcs, forearc basin, forearc ridge, and accretionary prism were very well developed. The northern margin of the central-south Qilian craton was chiefly a passive continental margin, but might be active locally in the lower Paleozoic time. The intervening oceanic domain consists of oceanic island arcs, oceanic islands, oceanic ridges, major oceanic floor, and backarc basin ocean floor. A Paleo-Qilian ocean with well-developed oceanic islands and oceanic ridges is presumed to have existed during the late Proterozoic-early Cambrian period. It started to contract in the mid-Cambrian and a Mariana type subduction occurred to have formed an oceanic island arc and a backarc basin. The Andean type subduction followed in the late-Cambrian through the Silurian periods, during which the paleo-Qilian oceanic lithosphere obliquely subducted northward beneath the southern margin of the Alashan craton, converting it from passive to active, and produced continental margin arc, forearc basin, forearc ridge, and accretionary prism, accompanied by the abundant granitoid intrusions. During the same period of time, the northern margin of the central-south Qilian craton had remained largely as a passive continental margin, but the paleo-Qilian oceanic lithosphere might have also subducted southward locally probably in the middle section of the north Qilian mountains. The cessation of the northerly oblique subduction in the late Silurian-Devonian period resulted an arc-continent collision and formed a backarc basin in the eastern section, and also left behind a segment of mid-oceanic ridge, an oceanic island arc, the enclosed remnant ocean, and a backarc basin on the surface of the earth in the western section. In summary, the lower Paleozoic plate tectonic structures of the north Qilian mountains are characterized by the orderly-arranged, well preserved mid-oceanic ridges, oceanic island arcs, accretionary prism, continental margin arcs, and backarc basins, and by the occurrence of Mariana-type and Andean-type subductions, dipolar subduction, and continental reworking and reactivation.

  5. The Start of Plate Tectonics in the Eoarchean: A Tribute to Gilbert N Hanson, Pioneer in Archean Geochemistry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shirey, S. B.; Kamber, B. S.; Whitehouse, M. J.; Mueller, P. A.; Basu, A. R.

    2007-05-01

    The use of isotopic and trace element geochemistry and igneous petrology to understand the petrogenesis of Archean rocks was pioneered by Gilbert Hanson and Joseph Arth at SUNY Stony Brook in the 1970's. Extension of these approaches allows the onset of plate tectonics on Earth shortly after the end of the Hadean to be specified. Nb/Th and Th/U ratios of mafic-ultramafic rocks from the depleted upper mantle begin to change from 7 to 18.2 and 4.7 to 2.9 (respectively) at 3.6 Ga. This signals the appearance of subduction-altered slabs in general mantle circulation from subduction initiated at 3.8 Ga. Juvenile crustal rocks begin to show derivation from progressively depleted mantle with typical igneous ?Nd:?Hf = 1:2 after 3.6 Ga. Cratons with stable mantle keels that have subduction imprints begin to appear at 3.5 Ga. These changes all suggest that extraction of continental crust by plate tectonic processes was progressively depleting the mantle from 3.6 Ga onwards. Neoarchean subduction appears largely analogous to present subduction except in being able to produce large cratons with thick mantle keels. The earliest Eoarchean juvenile rocks and Hadean zircons have compositions that reflect the integrated effects of separation of an early enriched reservoir and fractionation of perovskite from the Mars-size impact-derived magma ocean, rather than separation of voluminous continental crust or oceanic plate tectonics. Hadean zircons most likely were derived from a continent-absent, mafic to ultramafic protocrust that was multiply remelted between 4.4 and 4.0 Ga under wet conditions to produce evolved felsic rocks. If the protocrust was produced by global mantle overturn at ca 4.4 Ga, then the transition to plate tectonics resulted from radioactive decay-driven mantle heating. Otherwise, such protocrust would have been the typical product of mantle convection and the transition to plate tectonics resulted from cooling to the extent that large lithospheric plates stabilized.

  6. Mesozoic and Cenozoic plate tectonics in the High Arctic: new 2D seismic data and geodynamic models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nikishin, Anatoly; Kazmin, Yuriy; Glumov, Ivan; Petrov, Eugene; Poselov, Viktor; Burov, Evgueni; Gaina, Carmen

    2014-05-01

    Our paper is mainly based on the interpretation of 2D seismic lines, obtained from Arctic-2001 and Arctic-2012 projects. We also analyzed all available open-source data concerning Arctic geology. Three domains are distinguished in the abyssal part of Arctic Ocean: (1) Canada Basin, (2) Lomonosov-Podvodnikov-Alpha-Mendeleev-Nautilus-Chukchi Plateau (LPAMNCP) area, (3) Eurasia Basin. Canada Basin has oceanic and transitional crust of different structure. The formation time of this oceanic basin is probably 134-117 Ma. New seismic data for LPAMNCP area shows numerous rift structures parallel to the Lomonosov Ridge and Mendeleev Ridge. These rift structures are also nearly orthogonal to the Canada Basin spreading axis, and this may indicate either a different mechanism for the formation of the LPAMNCP region and Canada Basin, or a very complicated basin architecture formed by processes we do not yet understand. We also observe at the base of the LPAMNCP area sedimentary cover packages of bright reflectors, they were interpreted as basalt flows probably related to the Cretaceous plume volcanism. Approximate time of the volcanism is about 125 Ma. After this event, the area experienced stretching and transtension as documented by large scale rifting structures. The younger Eurasian Basin has oceanic crust of Eocene to Recent age, and our new seismic data confirms that Gakkel Ridge has typical ultraslow-spreading zone topography. Perhaps, Eurasia Basin crust was partly formed by exhumed and serpentinized mantle. Lomonosov and Alpha-Mendeleev Ridges has typical present-day basin and range topography with Oligocene to Recent faults. It means, that all LPAMNCP area was subjected to regional intra-plate stretching during Neogene to Recent time. We assume, that this intra-plate stretching was related to the Gakkel Ridge extension. We suppose, that the deep-water part of Arctic Ocean was formed during three main stages: (1) Valanginian - Early Aptian: formation of Canada Basin; (2) 125 Ma - Large-scale magmatism at Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge area, followed by large-scale rifting at LPAMNCP area; (3) Eocene to present: Eurasian Basin formation, ultraslow spreading. This process is accompanied by LPAMNCP area stretching. These three stages are connected with main phases of the plate tectonic reorganization.

  7. Tectonic Storytelling with Open Source and Digital Object Identifiers - a case study about Plate Tectonics and the Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Löwe, Peter; Barmuta, Jan; Klump, Jens; Neumann, Janna; Plank, Margret

    2014-05-01

    The communication of advances in research to the common public for both education and decision making is an important aspect of scientific work. An even more crucial task is to gain recognition within the scientific community, which is judged by impact factor and citation counts. Recently, the latter concepts have been extended from textual publications to include data and software publications. This paper presents a case study for science communication and data citation. For this, tectonic models, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), best practices for data citation and a multimedia online-portal for scientific content are combined. This approach creates mutual benefits for the stakeholders: Target audiences receive information on the latest research results, while the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) increases the recognition and citation of underlying scientific data. This creates favourable conditions for every researcher as DOI names ensure citeability and long term availability of scientific research. In the developed application, the FOSS tool for tectonic modelling GPlates is used to visualise and manipulate plate-tectonic reconstructions and associated data through geological time. These capabilities are augmented by the Science on a Halfsphere project (SoaH) with a robust and intuitive visualisation hardware environment. The tectonic models used for science communication are provided by the AGH University of Science and Technology. They focus on the Silurian to Early Carboniferous evolution of Central Europe (Bohemian Massif) and were interpreted for the area of the Geopark Bergstraße Odenwald based on the GPlates/SoaH hardware- and software stack. As scientific story-telling is volatile by nature, recordings are a natural means of preservation for further use, reference and analysis. For this, the upcoming portal for audiovisual media of the German National Library of Science and Technology TIB is expected to become a critical service infrastructure. It allows complex search queries, including metadata such as DOI and media fragment identifiers (MFI), thereby linking data citation and science communication.

  8. The 2.0 Ga Usagaran eclogites, Tanzania: the onset of modern plate tectonics or a continuation of the norm?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Buchan, C.; Collins, A. S.; Reddy, S. M.; Mruma, A.

    2003-04-01

    Phanerozoic eclogites are widely interpreted to have formed in subduction zone environments where fragments of oceanic crust have been buried to depths greater than 50 km. The formation and preservation of Phanerozoic eclogites is demonstrably linked to plate convergence and their study of eclogite-facies rocks underpins our understanding of subduction zones and plate tectonic models. Our understanding of more ancient, Precambrian tectonics is based on a uniformitarian model, which assumes that modern day tectonic processes are good analogues of those in the past. This assumption is limited because numerical modelling has shown that the driving force of plate tectonics, the thermal structure of the Earth, has changed dramatically over geological time. For example, at the start of the Palaeoproterozoic (2.5 Ga) the Earth's heat production was twice as high as at present. If these models are true then it is difficult to reconcile the formation of low-med temperature eclogite facies rocks in the Early Earth. The Palaeoproterozoic Usagaran orogenic belt of Tanzania contains the Earths oldest reported examples (2.0 Ga) of low/med temperature eclogites. The eclogites are reported to have MORB-like geochemical characteristics, which coupled with P-T estimates for their formation, suggests that they are subduction related. In this study detailed structural analysis and U-Th-Pb SHRIMP zircon dating of gneisses exposed in the high-grade, eclogite bearing part of the orogen (the Isimani Suite), has demonstrated that detrital grains in paragneisses yield ages between 2.4 &2.9 Ga. These are intercalated with 2.7 Ga orthogneisses of a similar age to the Tanzanian craton. The extensive distribution of 2.7 Ga crust in both the footwall and hangingwall of the Usagaran Orogen suggests that the most likely tectonic setting for the protoliths of the mafic eclogites was as oceanic crust in a marginal basin. The identification of Palaeoproterozoic subduction related eclogites that formed during closure of a marginal basin, suggests that the plate tectonic processes active at this time were similar to those in modern settings. These results show that by 2.0 Ga, despite possibly elevated mantle temperatures, metamorphic conditions in subduction zones had evolved to produce and preserve low/med temperature eclogites.

  9. Tectonics changes in NW South American Plate and their effect on the movement pattern of the Bocon Fault System during the Mrida Andes evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Javadi, Hamid Reza; Foroutan, Mohammad; Ashtiani, Marzieh Esterabi; Urbina, Jose Angel; Saidi, Abdollah; Faridi, Mohammad

    2011-07-01

    The NE-SW trending Mrida-Andes fold-and-thrust belt, in the southern boundary of the Maracaibo Block, formed by a collisional event in Late Miocene at the boundary of the Maracaibo Block and Guyana Shield in the northwestern South American plate. The 500 km long, NE-SW striking right-lateral strike-slip Bocon Fault System lies in the Mrida-Andes area. Mylonitic fault rocks along the Bocon Fault System developed during pre-Late Miocene-Early Pliocene. Microscopic and mesoscopic structures such as mica fish, asymmetrical porphyroclasts, S-C shear bands, and asymmetrical ductile folds in Bocon Fault mylonite indicate a sinistral movement along the fault. The movement is probably related to pre-collision extensional tectonics that began in the Late Triassic-Jurassic interval, and continued until the Late Cretaceous or Middle Eocene. Following the collision of the Panam Arc and the South American plate in the Late Miocene, and the change from extensional to contractional tectonic regime, the Bocon was reactivated as a dextral fault system.

  10. Observational Constraints on Lithospheric Rheology and Their Implications for Lithospheric Dynamics and Plate Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhong, S.; Watts, A. B.

    2014-12-01

    Lithospheric rheology and strength are important for understanding crust and lithosphere dynamics, and the conditions for plate tectonics. Laboratory studies suggest that lithospheric rheology is controlled by frictional sliding, semi-brittle, low-temperature plasticity, and high-temperature creep deformation mechanisms as pressure and temperature increase from shallow to large depths. Although rheological equations for these deformation mechanisms have been determined in laboratory settings, it is necessary to validate them using field observations. Here we present an overview of lithospheric rheology constrained by observations of seismic structure and load-induced flexure. Together with mantle dynamic modeling, rheological equations for high-temperature creep derived from laboratory studies (Hirth and Kohlstedt, 2003; Karato and Jung, 2003) satisfactorily explain the seismic structure of the Pacific upper mantle (Hunen et al., 2005) and Hawaiian swell topography (Asaadi et al., 2011). In a recent study that compared modeled surface flexure and stress induced by volcano loads in the Hawaiian Islands region with the observed flexure and seismicity, Zhong and Watts (2013) showed that the coefficient of friction is between 0.25 and 0.7, and is consistent with laboratory studies and also in-situ borehole measurements. However, this study indicated that the rheological equation for the low-temperature plasticity from laboratory studies (e.g., Mei et al., 2010) significantly over-predicts lithospheric strength and viscosity. Zhong and Watts (2013) also showed that the maximum lithospheric stress beneath Hawaiian volcano loads is about 100-200 MPa, which may be viewed as the largest lithospheric stress in the Earth's lithosphere. We show that the relatively weak lithospheric strength in the low-temperature plasticity regime is consistent with seismic observation of reactivated mantle lithosphere in the western US and the eastern North China. We discuss here the causes of this weakening in the context of the potential effects on laboratory studies of reduced grain size and Peierls stress on the low-temperature deformation regime.

  11. The Jan Mayen Microcontinent: Computers animations of the plate tectonic history

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Roest, W. R.; Lundin, E. R.; Torsvik, T. H.; Olesen, O.

    2002-12-01

    Local reinterpretation of magnetic seafloor anomalies in the NE Atlantic (e.g. Gaina et al., EPSL, 2002), and the Arctic (Oakey et al, GSC-Open File, 1999) has led to a revised Tertiary plate model for the region. Our model suggests complete separation between the North American and Eurasian plates was established first in the Oligocene, when a southward propagating Arctic spreading system linked with a northward propagating Atlantic spreading system. The Arctic system consisted of the Nansen, Mohns, and Aegir Ridges, with a series of left-lateral offsets, around the Greenland craton. The Atlantic system consisted of the Reykjanes and Kolbeinsey Ridges and stepped right around Greenland for the same reason. The final configuration became one of opposed and overlapping propagating spreading systems, where both the Aegir and the Kolbeinsey spreading ridges were active, a concept discussed by Vogt (1986). This configuration resembles that seen for microcracks, mode 1 fractures, normal faults, rifts, and minor offsets along spreading axes (e.g. Macdonald and Sempere, JGR, 1984). The interaction of the spreading ridge system with the Iceland Hotspot, likely influenced the timing and style of rifting and break-up (e.g. Mueller et al., Geology, 2001). As a result of the overlapping tips of the Arctic and Atlantic spreading axes, the Jan Mayen microcontinent gradually became separated from East Greenland and rotated c. 50° counter clockwise in the process. Our reconstructions indicate that this separation and rotation started approximately at Chron 22 (49 Ma) and ended approximately at Chron 12 (30 Ma) when the Aegir Ridge became extinct. During its rotation, the Jan Mayen microcontinent formed a bridge between NW Europe (the Faroes area) and southern East Greenland for quite some time. Clearly, the presence of the Jan Mayen continental sliver must have influenced oceanic circulation patterns between the NE Atlantic and Norwegian-Greenland Sea. We present a series of computer graphic animations, using magnetic, gravity and bathymetric data, to illustrate this complex tectonic history and its implications.

  12. Magma and tectonics along divergent plate boundaries: insights from field and modelling data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Acocella, V.; Trippanera, D.; Ruch, J.; Abebe, B.; Giordano, A.; Thordarson, T.

    2013-12-01

    Recent data have demonstrated that magma emplacement may play the major role during discrete rifting episodes. Here we use field data and analogue modeling to better constrain the role of magma and regional tectonics on the development of rift structures. We performed field surveys along the Neo Volcanic Zone (Iceland) and the Main Ethiopian Rift, focusing on 1) single eruptive fissures and related structures (Laki and Eldgj, Iceland) and 2) on mature rifts where several diking events occurred (Sveinagja, Krafla in Iceland and Fantale in Ethiopia). Systematic measurements of fault geometry and kinematics and extension fractures have been carried out. To better understand any role of magma on the evolution of the geometry and kinematics of rift, we use analogue models of dike intrusion. Laser-scanner and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) techniques have been used allowing us to quantify and reconstruct the time evolution of the rift development. Results of field surveys and analogue models suggest a correlation between the surface deformation pattern along rift zones (width and depth of grabens; normal and/or reverse kinematics, fault termination and opening of the normal faults) and the intrusion of magma at depth (injection of single or multiple dikes, at deeper or shallower levels). Different types of graben-like structures formed according to different depths and openings of rift zones.

  13. Generation of plate tectonics with two-phase grain-damage and pinning: Source-sink model and toroidal flow

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bercovici, David; Ricard, Yanick

    2013-03-01

    The grain-damage and pinning mechanism of Bercovici and Ricard (2012) for lithospheric shear-localization is employed in two-dimensional flow calculations to test its ability to generate toroidal (strike-slip) motion and influence plate evolution. This mechanism posits that damage to the interface between phases in a polycrystalline material like peridotite (composed primarily of olivine and pyroxene) increases the number of small Zener pinning surfaces, which then constrain mineral grains to ever smaller sizes, regardless of creep mechanism. This effect allows a self-softening feedback in which damage and grain-reduction can co-exist with a grain-size dependent diffusion creep rheology; moreover, grain growth and weak-zone healing are greatly impeded by Zener pinning thereby leading to long-lived relic weak zones. The fluid dynamical calculations employ source-sink driven flow as a proxy for convective poloidal flow (upwelling/downwelling and divergent/convergent motion), and the coupling of this flow with non-linear rheological mechanisms excites toroidal or strike-slip motion. The numerical experiments show that pure dislocation-creep rheology, and grain-damage without Zener pinning (as occurs in a single-phase assemblages) permit only weak localization and toroidal flow; however, the full grain-damage with pinning readily allows focussed localization and intense, plate-like toroidal motion and strike-slip deformation. Rapid plate motion changes are also tested with abrupt rotations of the source-sink field after a plate-like configuration is developed; the post-rotation flow and material property fields retain memory of the original configuration for extensive periods, leading to suboptimally aligned plate boundaries (e.g., strike-slip margins non-parallel to plate motion), oblique subduction, and highly localized, weak and long lived acute plate-boundary junctions such as at what is observed at the Aleutian-Kurile intersection. The grain-damage and pinning theory therefore readily satisfies key plate-tectonic metrics of localized toroidal motion and plate-boundary inheritance, and thus provides a predictive theory for the generation of plate tectonics on Earth and other planets.

  14. The interpretation of crustal dynamics data in terms of plate interactions and active tectonics of the Anatolian Plate and surrounding regions in the Middle East

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoz, M. Nafi

    1988-01-01

    The long-term objective of this project is to interpret NASA's Crustal Dynamics measurements (SLR) in the Eastern Mediterranean region in terms of relative plate movements and intraplate deformation. The approach is to combine realistic modeling studies with analysis of available geophysical and geological observations to provide a framework for interpreting NASA's measurements. This semi-annual report concentrates on recent results regarding the tectonics of Anatolia and surrounding regions from ground based observations. Also reported on briefly is progress in the use of the Global Positioning System to densify SLR observations in the Eastern Mediterranean. Reference is made to the previous annual report for a discussion of modeling results.

  15. The interpretation of crustal dynamics data in terms of plate interactions and active tectonics of the Anatolian Plate and surrounding regions in the Middle East

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoz, M. Nafi

    1987-01-01

    The long term objective of this project is to interpret NASA's Crustal Dynamics measurements (SLR) in the Eastern Mediterranean region in terms of relative plate motions and intraplate deformation. The approach is to combine realistic modeling studies with an analysis of available geophysical and geological observations to provide a framework for interpreting NASA's measurements. This semi-annual report concentrates on recent results regarding the tectonics of Anatolia and surrounding regions from ground based observations. Also briefly reported on is progress made in using GPS measurements to densify SLR observations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

  16. Spectrum of slip behaviour in Tohoku fault zone samples at plate tectonic slip rates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ikari, Matt J.; Ito, Yoshihiro; Ujiie, Kohtaro; Kopf, Achim J.

    2015-11-01

    During the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake, extremely extensive coseismic slip ruptured shallow parts of the Japan Trench subduction zone and breached the sea floor. This part of the subduction zone also hosts slow slip events (SSE). The fault thus seems to have a propensity for slip instability or quasi-instability that is unexpected on the shallow portions of important fault zones. Here we use laboratory experiments to slowly shear samples of rock recovered from the Tohoku-oki earthquake fault zone as part of the Japan Trench Fast Drilling Project. We find that infrequent perturbations in rock strength appear spontaneously as long-term SSE when the samples are sheared at a constant rate of about 8.5 cm yr-1, equivalent to the plate-convergence rate. The shear strength of the rock drops by 3 to 6%, or 50 kPa to 120 kPa, over about 2 to 4 h. Slip during these events reaches peak velocities of up to 25 cm yr-1, similar to SSE observed in several circum-Pacific subduction zones. Furthermore, the sheared samples exhibit the full spectrum of fault-slip behaviours, from fast unstable slip to slow steady creep, which can explain the wide range of slip styles observed in the Japan Trench. We suggest that the occurrence of SSE at shallow depths may help identify fault segments that are frictionally unstable and susceptible to large coseismic slip propagation.

  17. Earthly and Otherworldly Glaciers on Mars: Expressed Subsurface Subpolar Ice and "Plate Tectonic" South Polar Ices

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kargel, J. S.

    2003-12-01

    DIRTY SUBPOLAR GLACIERS: Deeply etched internal structures of debris-covered glaciers or rock glaciers occur widely on Mars at middle latitudes. Differentially sublimated folds, crevasses, medial moraines and flow lines are expressed now as a variety of pits, troughs, hummocks, and ridges; they reveal much about the extent of sublimation and the history of flow and accumulation that originally gave rise to these structures. In many regards, they appear like usual terrestrial debris-covered glaciers (including rock glaciers). These sublimated remnant structures are not uniformly distributed on the planet; they exhibit a definite relationship to latitude. The more deeply etched icy flows occur generally in the latitude belt from 30 to 40 degrees (north and south), where possibly very little ice remains near the surface. Between 40 and 55 degrees, most of these partly sublimated flows appear to be still icy. Poleward of that, many of them show very little evidence of any sublimational loss of ice, and instead appear as thick mantling blankets sometimes having subtle flow lines. Inferences for the distribution of ground ice and the role of sublimation are similar to those inferred from the distribution and morphology of small polygons; these results are also consistent with theoretical models of the distribution of ground ice and with Mars Odyssey neutron spectroscopy of the distribution of hydrogen in the upper meter of Mars. A peculiar aspect of dirty glaciers on Mars is their current lack of an evident zone of atmospherically driven accumulation; instead, accumulation of some dirty glaciers appears to be due to load-driven expression of ice originating probably in massive crustal layers; for others, atmospheric accumulation may occur at other times during the obliquity cycle of Mars. SOUTH POLAR ICE SHEET: Previously I have reported on evidence for flowing, faulting, folding south polar ice, with the evidence for the more ductile types of deformation concentrated within the area of perennial CO2 ice. This part of the polar cap exhibits strong evidence for convergent flow tending to close the quasi-spiral structured troughs, as predicted by finite-element modelers. A rich phenomenology accompanies this closure. In some cases, good evidence exists for one icy sheet overriding another. Elastic plate flexural responses, with attendant small-scale tectonism, is quite common, as is evidence for ductile deformation. Analogs drawn from Earth's lithosphere provide compelling explanations for some of these features. Smooth, topographically enclosed flat areas in the south polar deposits may be the surface expressions of subglacial lakes or refrozen lakes.

  18. Archean plate tectonics geodynamics: example from the Belomorian province, Fennoscandian Shield

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Slabunov, Alexander

    2014-05-01

    A fragment of the Archean collisional Belomorian orogen has been identified as the Belomorian province (BP) of the Fennoscandian Shield (Slabunov, 2008; Holtta et al., 2014). The province consists dominantly of Archean rocks, Early Paleoproterozoic rocks being less abundant. Rock of BP exhumed from middle crustal depths in Paleoproterozoic time (1.94-1.8 Ga). Seismic (CDP) profiling data (Sharov et al., 2010) show that the internal structure of BP reflects nappe tectonics: in Archean time, a collage of numerous slides was formed, and in Paleoproterozoic time the BP was thrusted on the Karelian craton and, in turn, was thrusted by rocks of the Kola province. The BP consists dominantly of Meso- and Neoarchean rock association (Slabunov et al. 2006). Neoarchean granitoids predominate, but eclogite-bearing metam?lange (Volodichev et al., 2004; Mints et al., 2010; Shchipansky et al., 2012), island-arc volcanics, front-arc basin sediments, ophiolite-type oceanic plateau-type rocks, collisional S-granites, kyanite-facies metamorphic rocks, molassa-type rocks, subalkaline granitoids and leucogabbro have been revealed among supracrustal rock associations. Rocks of the Belomorian province were subjected to multiple metamorphism in Archean and Paleoproterozoic time at moderately high to high pressures and were considerably deformed. High-grade supracrustal complexes make up not more than 20 % of the BP, but as they probably host ore and are crucial for the understanding of the formation and evolution of the structure, they are given close attention. Five generations of greenstone complexes of different ages: 2.88-2.82 Ga, 2.8-2.78 Ga, ca. 2.75 Ga , ca. 2.72 Ga and not later than 2.66 Ga, and two paragneiss complex in which sediments were formed 2.89-2.82 and 2.78 Ga ago, are distinguished. The main stages of crustal evolution in the BP: ca 2.88-2.82 Ga - the first subduction-accretion event marked by the following complexes: island-arc volcanics of the Keret GB; metagraywacke (front-arc basin sediments) of the Chupa paragneiss belt; Salma eclogites; 2.81?2.78 Ga - the second subduction-accretion event marked by the following complexes: island-arc volcanics, supra-subduction ophiolite (Iringora), graywackes, granulites (Notozero) and 4) eclogites (Kuru-Vaara); 2.75 Ga - the third subduction event marked by island-arc volcanics (Chelozero); 2.73-2.72 Ga - the fourth subduction-accretion event marked by : island-arc volcanics (Mil'kevich et al., 2007), granulites and Gridino eclogites; ca 2.7-2.66 Ga - collisional event marked by: collisional S-granites, kyanite-facies metamorphic rocks, molassa-type rocks, subalkaline granitoids and leucogabbro. The crustal evolution of the BP in the period 2.88-2.66 Ga is similar to the evolution of Phanerozoic collision orogens. This is a contribution to RFBR Project 13-05-91162.

  19. Active Pacific North America Plate boundary tectonics as evidenced by seismicity in the oceanic lithosphere offshore Baja California, Mexico

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hauksson, Egill; Kanamori, Hiroo; Stock, Joann; Cormier, Marie-Helene; Legg, Mark

    2014-03-01

    Pacific Ocean crust west of southwest North America was formed by Cenozoic seafloor spreading between the large Pacific Plate and smaller microplates. The eastern limit of this seafloor, the continent-ocean boundary, is the fossil trench along which the microplates subducted and were mostly destroyed in Miocene time. The Pacific-North America Plate boundary motion today is concentrated on continental fault systems well to the east, and this region of oceanic crust is generally thought to be within the rigid Pacific Plate. Yet, the 2012 December 14 Mw 6.3 earthquake that occurred about 275 km west of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, is evidence for continued tectonism in this oceanic part of the Pacific Plate. The preferred main shock centroid depth of 20 km was located close to the bottom of the seismogenic thickness of the young oceanic lithosphere. The focal mechanism, derived from both teleseismic P-wave inversion and W-phase analysis of the main shock waveforms, and the 12 aftershocks of M 3-4 are consistent with normal faulting on northeast striking nodal planes, which align with surface mapped extensional tectonic trends such as volcanic features in the region. Previous Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements on offshore islands in the California Continental Borderland had detected some distributed Pacific and North America relative plate motion strain that could extend into the epicentral region. The release of this lithospheric strain along existing zones of weakness is a more likely cause of this seismicity than current thermal contraction of the oceanic lithosphere or volcanism. The main shock caused weak to moderate ground shaking in the coastal zones of southern California, USA, and Baja California, Mexico, but the tsunami was negligible.

  20. The Role of Plate Tectonic-Climate Coupling and Exposed Land Area in the Development of Habitable Climates on Rocky Planets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Foley, Bradford J.

    2015-10-01

    The long-term carbon cycle is vital for maintaining liquid water oceans on rocky planets due to the negative climate feedbacks involved in silicate weathering. Plate tectonics plays a crucial role in driving the long-term carbon cycle because it is responsible for CO2 degassing at ridges and arcs, the return of CO2 to the mantle through subduction, and supplying fresh, weatherable rock to the surface via uplift and orogeny. However, the presence of plate tectonics itself may depend on climate according to recent geodynamical studies showing that cool surface temperatures are important for maintaining vigorous plate tectonics. Using a simple carbon cycle model, I show that the negative climate feedbacks inherent in the long-term carbon cycle are uninhibited by climate's effect on plate tectonics. Furthermore, initial atmospheric CO2 conditions do not impact the final climate state reached when the carbon cycle comes to equilibrium, as long as liquid water is present and silicate weathering can occur. Thus an initially hot, CO2 rich atmosphere does not prevent the development of a temperate climate and plate tectonics on a planet. However, globally supply limited weathering does prevent the development of temperate climates on planets with small subaerial land areas and large total CO2 budgets because supply limited weathering lacks stabilizing climate feedbacks. Planets in the supply limited regime may become inhospitable for life and could experience significant water loss. Supply limited weathering is less likely on plate tectonic planets because plate tectonics promotes high erosion rates and thus a greater supply of bedrock to the surface.

  1. Present-day kinematics of the Rivera plate and implications for tectonics in southwestern Mexico

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Demets, Charles; Stein, Seth

    1990-01-01

    A model for the present-day motion of the Rivera plate relative to the North America, Cocos, and Pacific plates is derived using new data from the Pacific-Rivera rise and Rivera transform fault, together with new estimates of Pacific-Rivera motions. The results are combined with the closure-consistent NUVEL-1 global plate motion model of DeMets et al. (1990) to examine present-day deformation in southwestern Mexico. The analysis addresses several questions raised in previous studies of the Rivera plate. Namely, do plate motion data from the northern East Pacific rise require a distinct Rivera plate? Do plate kinematic data require the subduction of the Rivera plate along the seismically quiescent Acapulco trench? If so, what does the predicted subduction rate imply about the earthquake recurrence interval in the Jalisco region of southwestern Mexico?

  2. 3-D simulation for the tectonic evolution around the Kanto Region of Japan using the kinematic plate subduction model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hashima, A.; Sato, T.; Ito, T.; Miyauchi, T.; Kameo, K.; Yamamoto, S.

    2011-12-01

    In the Kanto region of Japan, we can observe one of the most active crustal deformations on the earth. In the southern part of the Boso peninsula to the south, the uplift rate is estimated to be 5 mm/yr from the height of marine terraces. From geological evidence, the Kanto mountains to the west are considered to uplift at 1mm/yr. In contrast, the center part of the Kanto region is stable or subsiding, covered by the Holocene sediments. The depth of the basement reaches 3 km at the deepest. Vertical deformation in the timescale of 1 Myr is being revealed by the analysis of the recent seismic reflection experiments compared with the heights of the dated sediment layers exposed on land. These crustal deformation occurs in a highly complex tectonic setting with four plates interacting with each other: beneath Kanto, situated on the Eurasian and North American plates, the Philippine sea plate subducts and the Pacific plate further descends beneath the North American and Philippine sea plates, forming the unique trench-trench-trench triple junction on the earth. In addition, the Izu-Bonin (Ogasawara) arc on the Philippine sea plate is colliding with the Japan islands due to the buoyancy of the arc crust. At the plate boundaries near the Izu-Bonin arc, large interplate earthquakes occurred at the Sagami trough in 1703 and 1923 (Kanto earthquake) and at the Nankai trough in 1707, 1854 and 1944. To reveal the crustal deformation under these plate-to-plate interactions, we use the kinematic plate subduction model based on the elastic dislocation theory. This model is based on the idea that mechanical interaction between plates can rationally be represented by the increase of the displacement discontinuity (dislocation) across plate interfaces. Given the 3-D geometry of plate interfaces, the distribution of slip rate vectors for simple plate subduction can be obtained directly from relative plate velocities. In collision zones, the plate with arc crust cannot easily descend because of its buoyancy. This can be represented by giving slip-rate deficit. When crustal deformation occurs, it also causes change in geometry of the plate boundary itself. Iterating this effect sequentially backward in time, we can reconstruct the past plate boundary geometry and past crustal deformation fields. Using the above model, we estimate the long-term slip-rate distribution due to plate subduction/collision to explain the crustal deformation in Kanto obtained from geological and geomorphological studies. The basic deformation pattern of the basin-forming movement in the Kanto plain and uplifts in the southern Boso peninsula and in the Kanto and Akaishi mountains cannot be explained by the collision restricted to the Izu peninsula only. It is necessary to assume wider collision extended to the neighboring Sagami and Suruga trough, which is consistent to the width of the arc crust of the Izu-Bonin arc. However, the degree of the collision is relatively small in these areas where large interplate earthquake occurs. The effect of temporal change in geometry of the plate interfaces is not so large in the timescale of 1 Myr.

  3. Tectonic Structure of the Middle America Pacific Margin and Incoming Cocos Plate From Costa Rica to Guatemala

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ranero, C. R.; Weinrebe, W.; Grevemeyer, I.; Phipps Morgan, J.; Vannucchi, P.; von Huene, R.

    2003-12-01

    A new multibeam bathymetry and magnetic survey with R/V SONNE in summer 2003 has mapped the continental margin and incoming plate of NW Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, extending existing coverage from offshore Costa Rica and part of Nicaragua to a full coverage map of about 1200 km long by 100 km wide area along the plate boundary. The incoming plate along Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala is of similar age and was formed at superfast spreading rates; however, its morphology changes drastically along strike. The seafloor-spreading inherited morphology is very smooth along Nicaragua, but with ridges up to 800 m high in Guatemala, with a transition across El Salvador. The development and dimensions of the dominant inherited fabric seems to be related to discontinuities at the paleospreading center. A series of troughs oblique to the main fabric may indicate the location of pseudofaults and correspond to areas where the seafloor fabric is most prominent. Bending of the oceanic plate into the trench reactivates the inherited fabric forming a well pervasive faulting system along the oceanic trench slope. The continental slope displays three morphotectonic units that roughly correspond to the upper, middle and lower slope, although the across slope width of each unit is fairly variable. Small canyons and gullies that form at the sudden dip change across the shelf break carve the upper slope. The canyons coalesce and become shallower as the dip decreases downslope. Locally some large canyons continue into the slope toe. The middle slope is a rough terrain variable in width and dip sculptured by pervasive normal faulting and locally by mass wasting processes. The lower slope is formed by en echelon terraces striking similar to the rough terrain of the incoming plate and mimicking the half graben morphology of the underthusting plate. The three morphotectonic slope domains represent differences in tectonic activity, with more stable upper slope, a middle slope dominated by tectonic extension and the thin, highly fractured upper plate of the lower slope riffling over the incoming plate topography. The trench axis is largely empty, with local turbidite ponds at the mouth of a few large canyons transecting the entire slope.

  4. On the relationship between tectonic plates and thermal mantle plume morphology

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lenardic, A.; Kaula, W. M.

    1993-01-01

    Models incorporating plate-like behavior, i.e., near uniform surface velocity and deformation concentrated at plate boundaries, into a convective system, heated by a mix of internal and basal heating and allowing for temperature dependent viscosity, were constructed and compared to similar models not possessing plate-like behavior. The simplified numerical models are used to explore how plate-like behavior in a convective system can effect the lower boundary layer from which thermal plumes form. A principal conclusion is that plate-like behavior can significantly increase the temperature drop across the lower thermal boundary layer. This temperature drop affects the morphology of plumes by determining the viscosity drop across the boundary layer. Model results suggest that plumes on planets possessing plate-like behavior, e.g., the Earth, may differ in morphologic type from plumes on planets not possessing plate-like behavior, e.g., Venus and Mars.

  5. A source-sink model of the generation of plate tectonics from non-Newtonian mantle flow

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bercovici, David

    1995-01-01

    A model of mantle convection which generates plate tectonics requires strain rate- or stress-dependent rheology in order to produce strong platelike flows with weak margins as well as strike-slip deformation and plate spin (i.e., toroidal motion). Here, we employ a simple model of source-sink driven surface flow to determine the form of such a rheology that is appropriate for Earth's present-day plate motions. In this model, lithospheric motion is treated as shallow layer flow driven by sources and sinks which correspond to spreading centers and subduction zones, respectively. Two plate motion models are used to derive the source sink field. As originally implied in the simpler Cartesian version of this model, the classical power law rheologies do not generate platelike flows as well as the hypothetical Whitehead-Gans stick-slip rheology (which incorporates a simple self-lubrication mechanism). None of the fluid rheologies examined, however, produce more than approximately 60% of the original maximum shear. For either plate model, the viscosity fields produced by the power law rheologies are diffuse, and the viscosity lows over strike-slip shear zones or pseudo-margins are not as small as over the prescribed convergent-divergent margins. In contrast, the stick-slip rheology generates very platelike viscosity fields, with sharp gradients at the plate boundaries, and margins with almost uniformly low viscosity. Power law rheologies with high viscosity contrasts, however, lead to almost equally favorable comparisons, though these also yield the least platelike viscosity fields. This implies that the magnitude of toroidal flow and platelike strength distributions are not necessarily related and thus may present independent constraints on the determination of a self-consistent plate-mantle rheology.

  6. A source-sink model of the generation of plate tectonics from non-Newtonian mantle flow

    SciTech Connect

    Bercovici, D.

    1995-02-01

    A model of mantle convection which generates plate tectonics requires strain rate- or stress-dependent rheology in order to produce strong platelike flows with weak margins as well as strike-slip deformation and plate spin (i.e., toroidal motion). Here, we employ a simple model of source-sink driven surface flow to determine the form of such a rheology that is appropriate for Earth`s present-day plate motions. In this model, lithospheric motion is treated as shallow layer flow driven by sources and sinks which correspond to spreading centers and subduction zones, respectively. Two plate motion models are used to derive the source sink field. As originally implied in the simpler Cartesian version of this model, the classical power law rheologies do not generate platelike flows as well as the hypothetical Whitehead-Gans stick-slip rheology (which incorporates a simple self-lubrication mechanism). None of the fluid rheologies examined, however, produce more than approximately 60% of the original maximum shear. For either plate model, the viscosity fields produced by the power law rheologies are diffuse, and the viscosity lows over strike-slip shear zones or pseudo-margins are not as small as over the prescribed convergent-divergent margins. In contrast, the stick-slip rheology generates very platelike viscosity fields, with sharp gradients at the plate boundaries, and margins with almost uniformly low viscosity. Power law rheologies with high viscosity contrasts, however, lead to almost equally favorable comparisons, though these also yield the least platelike viscosity fields. This implies that the magnitude of toroidal flow and platelike strength distributions are not necessarily related and thus may present independent constraints on the determination of a self-consistent plate-mantle rheology.

  7. Crustal structure beneath southern Africa: insight into how tectonic events affect the Mohorovičić discontinuity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Delph, Jonathan R.; Porter, Ryan C.

    2015-01-01

    The long and complex history of southern Africa makes it a geological nexus for understanding how crust forms, evolves and survives plate tectonic processes over billions of years. The goal of this study is to characterize the crustal thickness, composition, and Moho impedance contrasts across the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe Cratons and surrounding mobile belts, which range in age from Archean to Palaeozoic. We use data gathered from the 1997-1999 Southern Africa Seismic Experiment, the Africa Array (2006-2007) and the Global Seismographic Network (1993-2009) to generate P-wave receiver function Gaussian-weighted common conversion point stacks across the region in order to provide a continuous 3-D image of crustal variations throughout southern Africa. We observe thickened crust associated with mobile belts and the intrusion of the Bushveld Complex relative to the less-deformed cratons. The southern Kaapvaal and eastern Zimbabwe Cratons have a well-defined Moho with an average depth of ˜34 km and Vp/Vs of ˜1.73, indicative of felsic average crustal composition. We explain the felsic composition observed in the Kaapvaal Craton in the context of significant crustal modification related to the deposition of the Ventersdorp lavas. We find that the Bushveld Province, the site of the world's largest layered mafic intrusion, has a thick (>40 km) crust with a Vp/Vs > 1.8, indicative of a mafic average crustal composition. The magnitude of Moho conversions beneath the Bushveld Province is variable, with the lowest amplitude conversion appearing between the eastern and western limbs of the Bushveld Complex, indicative of mafic underplating beneath the region. In the Limpopo Belt and western Zimbabwe Craton, we observe low amplitude Moho conversions beneath the Okavango Dyke Swarm, and attribute this to the reworking of the crust by mafic underplating and intrusion during the Jurassic rifting of Gondwanaland. The Namaqua-Natal event thickened the crust and created a gradational transition from crust to mantle as seen by low amplitude Ps arrivals from receiver functions. Evidence for the presence of a mafic lower crust beneath the Namaqua-Natal Belt is observed in high Vp/Vs values (˜1.8) and a high concentration of granulite xenoliths in kimberlite intrusions. In contrast to past interpretations for craton formation that suggest sharp Moho boundaries and low Vp/Vs ratios are characteristic of undisturbed cratons, we propose that these crustal properties are more controlled by tectonic events that later modify the existing cratonic crust. We cannot rule out secular crustal formation variations in the early Earth, but we propose that the southern African cratonic crust has been too heavily modified by later tectonic events to be used in arguments for secular variation, as may be the case for other cratons as well. Thus, it is important to consider the regional geological history of cratons to ensure that secular variation is not confused with the effects of later tectonic deformation and crustal modification.

  8. Plate-Tectonic Analysis of Shallow Seismicity: Apparent Boundary Width, beta-Value, Corner Magnitude, Coupled Lithosphere Thickness, and Coupling in 7 Tectonic Settings

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bird, P.; Kagan, Y. Y.

    2003-12-01

    A new plate model [Bird, 2003, G3, 10.1029/2001GC000252] is used to analyze the mean seismicities of 7 types of plate boundary (CRB continental rift boundary, CTF continental transform fault, CCB continental convergent boundary, OSR oceanic spreading ridge, OTF oceanic transform fault, OCB oceanic convergent boundary, SUB subduction zone). We compare the plate-like (non-orogen) regions of model PB2002 with the CMT catalog to select apparent boundary half-widths, and then assign 95% of shallow earthquakes to one of these settings. A tapered Gutenberg-Richter model of the frequency/moment relation is fit to the subcatalog for each setting by maximum-likelihood. Best-fitting ? values range from 0.53 to 0.92, but all 95%-confidence ranges are consistent with a common value of 0.61-0.66. To better determine some corner magnitudes we expand the subcatalogs by: (1) inclusion of orogens; and (2) inclusion of years 1900-1975 from the catalog of Pacheco and Sykes [1992]. Combining both earthquake statistics and the plate-tectonic constraint on moment rate, corner magnitudes include: CRB 7.64-.26+.76, CTF 8.01-.21+.45, CCB 8.46-.39+.21, OCB 8.04-.22+.52, and SUB 9.58-.46+.48. Coupled lithosphere thicknesses are found to be: CRB 3.0-1.4+7.0 km; CTF 8.6-4.1+11 km; CCB 18-11+? km; OSR 0.13-0.09+.13 km for normal-faulting and 0.40-.21+? km for strike-slip; OTF 12-7.1+?, 1.6-0.5+1.4, and 1.5-0.6+1.2 km at low, medium, and high velocities; OCB 3.8-2.3+13.7 km, and SUB 18.0-10.8+? km. Generally high coupling of subduction and continental plate boundaries suggests that here all seismic gaps are dangerous unless proven to be creeping. Generally low coupling within oceanic lithosphere suggests a different model of isolated seismic asperities surrounded by large seismic gaps which may be permanent.

  9. Application of Laser Ranging and VLBI Data to a Study of Plate Tectonic Driving Forces

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    1980-01-01

    The conditions under which changes in plate driving or resistive forces associated with plate boundary earthquakes are measurable with laser ranging or very long base interferometry were investigated. Aspects of plate forces that can be characterized by such measurements were identified. Analytic solutions for two dimensional stress diffusion in a viscoelastic plate following earthquake faulting on a finite fault, finite element solutions for three dimensional stress diffusion in a viscoelastic Earth following earthquake faulting, and quantitative constraints from modeling of global intraplate stress on the magnitude of deviatoric stress in the lithosphere are among the topics discussed.

  10. Pre-plate tectonics and structure of the Archean mantle lithosphere imaged by seismic anisotropy - inferences from the LAPNET array in northern Fennoscandia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Plomerova, Jaroslava; Vecsey, Ludek; Babuska, Vladislav; Lapnet Working Group

    2013-04-01

    Various studies of seismic anisotropy clearly demonstrate the Archean mantle lithosphere consists of domains with different fabrics reflecting fossil anisotropic structures. We detect anisotropic signal both in the P-wave travel-time deviations and shear-wave splitting recorded by the LAPNET array (2007-2009) in the Archean craton of Fennoscandia (Plomerova et al., 2011). The anisotropic parameters change across the array and stations with similar characteristics form groups. The geographical variations of seismic-wave anisotropy delimit individual sharply bounded domains of the mantle lithosphere, each of them having a consistent fabric. The domains can be modelled in 3D by peridotite aggregates with dipping lineation a, or foliation (a,c). Also radial anisotropy of the Archean lithosphere derived from surface waves indicates inclined structure of all the cratonic regions of the continents, though with less detailed lateral resolution in comparison with body-wave anisotropy. These findings allow us to interpret the domains as micro-plate fragments retaining fossil fabrics in the mantle lithosphere, reflecting thus an olivine LPO created before the micro-plates assembled. Successive subductions of oceanic lithosphere is a mechanism which can work in modern-style plate tectonics as we know it now, being considered as widespread since 2.7 Ga. Though the modern plate tectonics is the most distinct tectonic style acting up to now, we have to consider a mechanism creating oriented structures (fabrics) in a pre-plate-tectonic style. The early lithosphere formed in dynamic conditions far from simple cooling which would result in sub-horizontal layered structure of the lithosphere. Earlier tectonic modes in a hotter and more dynamic Earth might be similar in some respects to those of the modern-plate tectonics. Basaltic "rockbergs" on convecting magma ocean in the Hadean Earth are supposed to turn to either proto-plate tectonics with platelets and supercratonal, or, to unstable stagnant lithospheric lid models in the Archean (~4.0 Ga), both evolving into the modern-style plate tectonics (Ernst 2007). The stage of platelets or supercratonal lasted during the deep mantle and plume-driven circulations, when plate motions were controlled by asthenospheric convection dragging buoyant lithosphere along and down. Differential motions between pairs of Precambrian cratons indicated in paleomagnetic records suggest supercontinental amalgamation and dispersal involving Archean cratons. Current thick and cold Archean cratons are thus formed by a collage of fragments of old lithosphere, each of them retaining its fabric. Studies of fossil anisotropy preserved in the mantle lithosphere contribute both to mapping the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary and deciphering boundaries of individual blocks building the continental lithosphere (Plomerova and Babuska, Lithos 2010).

  11. Tectonically emplaced ultra-depleted lithospheric mantle records garnet, spinel and plagioclase facies events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Czertowicz, Thomas; Scott, James; Palin, Mike

    2014-05-01

    The poorly studied Anita Ultramafites in western New Zealand represent a several km wide slice of lithospheric mantle that was tectonically emplaced onto the Gondwana supercontinent margin. The peridotites are almost exclusively spinel facies dunite and harzburgite, although spinel-orthopyroxene symplectites indicate the former presence of Cr-garnet. Pyroxenite dikes are uncommon, and there is no sign of an ophiolitic type structure. Olivine (~Fo93) and chromite (~Cr# 70) attest to extreme degrees of melt depletion, likely under hydrous conditions. The rocks were decompressed and equilibrated at the spinel facies. The ultramafites were then refertilised by a fluid that was rich in Si, Ca, K, OH and LREE, and probably equates to a low-degree silicate melt. The occurrence of negative and positive Eu and Sr anomalies in amphibole points to the influence of plagioclase, and suggests that refertilisation occurred at a very shallow lithospheric level. An added complication is that the peridotite was metamorphosed to upper amphibolite facies in the Cretaceous after tectonic emplacement. This generated talc, tremolite and chlorite. P-T conditions from adjacent gneisses indicate that this event occurred at ~ 10-12 kbar in association with crustal thickening. Thus, the peridotite may have been pushed back out of plagioclase facies conditions, partially melted, and re-equilibrated back in the spinel facies. The Anita Ultramafics therefore record a sequence of attempts to equilibrate at garnet - spinel - plagioclase - spinel facies, before final exhumation.

  12. Tectonic inversion events in the western San Jorge Gulf Basin from seismic, borehole and field data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Navarrete, C. R.; Gianni, G. M.; Folguera, A.

    2015-12-01

    The San Jorge Gulf Basin, located in Central Patagonia, has been interpreted as a Jurassic-Cretaceous rift basin that was later inverted mainly in its western sector. Consequently, the Bernardides System formed as a set of foreland contractional structures that constitute the core of the Patagonian broken foreland, exhuming continental deposits of the Cretaceous Chubut Group, 500 km away from the Pacific trench. In spite of the intense research done in the San Jorge Gulf Basin many aspects remain under discussion, particularly those regarding the age of uplift of the Bernárdides System. In order to unravel the tectonic evolution of the western San Jorge Gulf Basin (Río Mayo Sub-Basin), we analyzed subsurface information (2D and 3D seismic lines and oil wells) located in the western area of the basin and compared this with surface data of the southern Bernárdides System. Based on our interpretation, the western part of the basin could have been uplifted in a series of deformational events that began as early as late Early Cretaceous, related to the initial uplift of the Patagonian broken foreland, during the early stages of South Atlantic opening. Subsequent stages of tectonic reactivation identified in this system have selectively inverted previous extensional structures according to the variable direction of the greatest horizontal stress (σ1) acting at each time.

  13. Plate-Tectonic Circulation is Driven by Cooling From the Top and is Closed Within the Upper Mantle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hamilton, W. B.

    2001-12-01

    Subduction drives plate tectonics and is due to cooling from the top: circulation is self-organized, and likely is closed above the discontinuity near 660 km. The contrary consensus that plate tectonics is driven by bottom heating and involves the entire mantle combines misunderstood kinematics with flawed concepts of through-the-mantle plumes and subduction. Plume conjecture came from the Emperor-Hawaii progression, the 45 Ma inflection in which was assumed to mark a 60-degree change in direction of that part of the Pacific plate over a fixed plume. Smooth spreading patterns around the east and south margin of the Pacific plate, and paleomagnetic data, disprove such a change. Speculations that plumes move, jump, etc. do not revive falsified conjecture. Geochemical distinctions between enriched island and depleted ridge basalts (which overlap) are expected products of normal upper-mantle processes, not plumes. MORB traverses solidus-T asthenosphere, whereas OIB zone-refines through subsolidus lithosphere and crust, crystallizing refractories to retain T of diminishing melt while assimilating and retaining fusibles. Tomographic inference of deep-mantle subduction is presented misleadingly and may reflect methodological and sampling artifacts (downward smearing, and concentration of recorded body waves in bundles within broad anomalies otherwise poorly sampled). Planetological and other data require hot Earth accretion, and thorough early fractionation, from material much more refractory than primitive meteorites, and are incompatible with the little-fractionated lower mantle postulated to permit whole-mantle circulation. The profound seismic discontinuity near 660 km is a thermodynamic and physical barrier to easy mass transfer in either direction. Refractory lower mantle convects slowly, perhaps in layers, and loses primarily original heat, whereas upper mantle churns rapidly, and the 660 decoupling boundary must have evolved into a compositional barrier also. Plate motions are driven by subduction, the passive falling away of oceanic lithosphere which is negatively buoyant because of top-down cooling. Slabs have top and bottom rolling hinges and sink subvertically (inclinations of slabs mark their positions, not trajectories) into the transition zone, where they are laid down on, and depress, the 660-km discontinuity. Rollback of upper hinges into subducting plates is required by plate behavior at all scales. That fronts of overriding plates advance at rollback velocity is required by common preservation atop their thin leading edges of little-deformed fore-arc basins. Convergence velocity also commonly equals rollback but is faster in some arcs. Steeply-sinking inclined slabs push sublithospheric upper mantle forward into the shrinking ocean from which they came, forcing seafloor spreading therein, and pull overriding plates behind them. Continental plates pass over sunken slabs like tanks above their basal treads, and material from, and displaced rearward by, sunken slabs is cycled into pull-apart oceans opening behind the continents, thus transferring mantle from shrinking to enlarging oceans. Hot mantle displaced above slabs enables backarc spreading. Spreading ridges, in both shrinking and enlarging oceans, are passive byproducts of subduction, and migrate because it is more energy efficient to process new asthenosphere than to get partial melt from increasingly distant sources. A plate-motion framework wherein hinges roll back, ridges migrate, Antarctica is approximately fixed, and intraplate deformation is integrated may approximate an absolute reference to sluggish lower mantle, whereas the hotspot frame is invalid, and the no-net-rotation frame minimizes trench and ridge motions.

  14. Reinterpretation of Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic events, Mountain Pass area, northeastern San Bernardino County, California

    SciTech Connect

    Nance, M.A. . Geology Dept.)

    1993-04-01

    Detailed mapping, stratigraphic structural analysis in the Mountain Pass area has resulted in a reinterpretation of Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic events in the area. Mesozoic events are characterized by north vergent folds and thrust faults followed by east vergent thrusting. Folding created two synclines and an anticline which were than cut at different stratigraphic levels by subsequent thrust faults. Thrusting created composite tectono-stratigraphic sections containing autochthonous, para-autothonous, and allochthonous sections. Normal faults cutting these composite sections including North, Kokoweef, White Line, and Piute fault must be post-thrusting, not pre-thrusting as in previous interpretations. Detailed study of these faults results in differentiation of at least three orders of faults and suggest they represent Cenozoic extension correlated with regional extensional events between 11 and 19 my. Mesozoic stratigraphy reflects regional orogenic uplift, magmatic activity, and thrusting. Inclusion of Kaibab clasts in the Chinle, Kaibab and Chinle clasts in the Aztec, and Chinle, Aztec, and previously deposited Delfonte Volcanics clasts in the younger members of the Delfonte Volcanics suggest regional uplift prior to the thrusting of Cambrian Bonanza King over Delfonte Volcanics by the Mescal Thrust fault. The absence of clasts younger than Kaibab argues against pre-thrusting activity for the Kokoweef fault.

  15. Shear wave splitting as a tool to understand the interactions between oceanic plate tectonics and continental dynamics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Becker, Thorsten W.; Miller, Meghan S.; Faccenna, Claudio

    2013-04-01

    Subducting slabs are the major actors of oceanic-plate domain mantle convection, but their temporally variable pull and interaction with continental interiors strongly affect continental tectonics. We discuss how seismic anisotropy can be used jointly with global mantle flow models to constrain some of the governing, yet uncertain, parameters controlling such interactions. These include the relative strength of mantle rocks and the degree to which mantle heterogeneity, e.g. as imaged by tomography, actively drives mantle flow. To link geophysical and geological data, it is useful to consider global models with sufficient numerical resolution to allow for testing of regional geodynamic hypotheses, such as to the strength of plate boundaries and micro plate motions. Recent modeling and imaging results for the southeastern Caribbean, the Alboran/Atlas domain of northwest Africa, and the Middle East Afar/Arabia/Anatolia system show how anisotropy can help track the establishment of whole mantle convection cells, the extent of plume push and spreading, and continental keel-related channeling of asthenospheric currents.

  16. Faunal breaks and species composition of Indo-Pacific corals: the role of plate tectonics, environment and habitat distribution

    PubMed Central

    Keith, S. A.; Baird, A. H.; Hughes, T. P.; Madin, J. S.; Connolly, S. R.

    2013-01-01

    Species richness gradients are ubiquitous in nature, but the mechanisms that generate and maintain these patterns at macroecological scales remain unresolved. We use a new approach that focuses on overlapping geographical ranges of species to reveal that Indo-Pacific corals are assembled within 11 distinct faunal provinces. Province limits are characterized by co-occurrence of multiple species range boundaries. Unexpectedly, these faunal breaks are poorly predicted by contemporary environmental conditions and the present-day distribution of habitat. Instead, faunal breaks show striking concordance with geological features (tectonic plates and mantle plume tracks). The depth range over which a species occurs, its larval development rate and genus age are important determinants of the likelihood that species will straddle faunal breaks. Our findings indicate that historical processes, habitat heterogeneity and species colonization ability account for more of the present-day biogeographical patterns of corals than explanations based on the contemporary distribution of reefs or environmental conditions. PMID:23698011

  17. Faunal breaks and species composition of Indo-Pacific corals: the role of plate tectonics, environment and habitat distribution.

    PubMed

    Keith, S A; Baird, A H; Hughes, T P; Madin, J S; Connolly, S R

    2013-07-22

    Species richness gradients are ubiquitous in nature, but the mechanisms that generate and maintain these patterns at macroecological scales remain unresolved. We use a new approach that focuses on overlapping geographical ranges of species to reveal that Indo-Pacific corals are assembled within 11 distinct faunal provinces. Province limits are characterized by co-occurrence of multiple species range boundaries. Unexpectedly, these faunal breaks are poorly predicted by contemporary environmental conditions and the present-day distribution of habitat. Instead, faunal breaks show striking concordance with geological features (tectonic plates and mantle plume tracks). The depth range over which a species occurs, its larval development rate and genus age are important determinants of the likelihood that species will straddle faunal breaks. Our findings indicate that historical processes, habitat heterogeneity and species colonization ability account for more of the present-day biogeographical patterns of corals than explanations based on the contemporary distribution of reefs or environmental conditions. PMID:23698011

  18. Young tectonics of a complex plate boundary zone: Indentation, rotation, and escape in Alaska

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wallace, W. K.; Ruppert, N. A.

    2012-12-01

    Convergence of thick crust of the Yakutat block with the southern margin of Alaska is widely recognized as a dominant influence on the tectonics of Alaska since at least late Miocene time. It is less clear how this convergence relates to the distribution, type, and orientation of geologic structures, and to the boundaries between the tectonic provinces that they define. We propose that convergence of Yakutat block includes two distinct components that influence deformation and topography in different ways: 1) The crust of the exposed, southern Yakutat block is too thick to subduct, which has caused the collisional St. Elias orogen. Detachment of the upper part of the mafic basement allows delamination and sinking of the remaining mafic crust and lithospheric mantle. The collisional orogen drives rigid counterclockwise rotation of the southern Alaska block south of the arcuate, right-lateral Denali fault. The western boundary of this block is a zone of distributed contraction in the western Alaska Range and Cook Inlet. 2) The northern part of the Yakutat block is thin enough to subduct but thick and buoyant enough to cause localized flat-slab subduction orthogonal to rotation of the southern Alaska block. Consequences include the gently antiformal Talkeetna Mountains that span the forearc basin, a gap in the magmatic arc, and a basement-involved fold-and-thrust belt in the northern Alaska Range. An arcuate oroclinal hinge from southern Alaska to the northeastern Brooks Range reflects indentation since at least Paleocene time. Traction above the subducted Yakutat block along the southern part of this hinge drives current indentation. North of the subducted Yakutat block, indentation is reflected by left-lateral block rotation that accommodates shortening between the Denali and Tintina faults and by contraction farther north along the northern edge of the arcuate northeastern Brooks Range. Western Alaska accommodates both northward indentation and westward convergence of the southern Alaska block by right-lateral block rotation and tectonic escape related to local left-lateral faults. Farther west, slow clockwise rigid rotation of the extensive Bering block accommodates escape and is separated from stable northwestern Alaska by a zone of extension. These tectonic provinces are defined by mapped structures and by the distribution and focal mechanisms of earthquakes. Structures are generally consistent with stress orientations determined from earthquakes, but local discrepancies between observed structures and those predicted from the stress determinations suggest that reactivation of older structures is important.

  19. Tectonic and deposition model of late Precambrian-Cambrian Arabian and adjoining plates

    SciTech Connect

    Husseini, M.I. )

    1989-09-01

    During the late Precambrian, the terranes of the Arabian and adjoining plates were fused along the northeastern flank of the African plate in Gondwanaland. This phase, which ended approximately 640 to 620 Ma, was followed by continental failure (620 to 580 Ma) and intracontinental extension (600 to approximately 550 Ma). During the Infracambrian extensional phase, a triple junction may have evolved near the Sinai Peninsula and may have consisted of the (1) Jordan Valley and Dead Sea rift branch, (2) Sinai and North Egypt rift branch, and (3) the Najd wrench-rift branch. The Najd, Hawasina, and Zagros fault systems may have been transverse faults that accompanied rifting in the Arabian Gulf and Zagros Mountains, southern Oman, Pakistan, and Kerman in central Iran. While the area was extending and subsiding, the Tethys Ocean flooded the eastern side of the Arabian plate and Iran and deposited calcareous clastics, carbonates, and evaporites (including the Hormuz and Ara halites). This transgression extended into the western part of the Arabian plate via the Najd rift system. The termination of the extensional phase during the late Early Cambrian was accompanied by a major regression and terrestrial conditions on the Arabian Peninsula. However, by the Early Ordovician, as sea level peaked to a highstand, the Arabian plate was blanketed with marginal marine sediments. 11 figs., 2 tabs.

  20. Three-dimensional variations in present-day tectonic stress along the Australia-Pacific plate boundary in New Zealand

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Townend, John; Sherburn, Steven; Arnold, Richard; Boese, Carolin; Woods, Lisa

    2012-11-01

    Using a newly compiled data set of 3424 focal mechanisms, we have estimated tectonic stress parameters at 100 locations throughout central New Zealand in the largest study to date of the tectonic stress field along the Australia-Pacific plate boundary. The results reveal pronounced changes in the azimuth of maximum horizontal compressive stress SHmax along the shallow portion (<50 km depths) of the Hikurangi subduction margin, with a marked change from margin-parallel SHmax north of Hawke's Bay (latitude c. 40S) to a more oblique SHmax orientation further south. This change appears to coincide with the along-strike variations in subduction thrust coupling inferred from geodetic and seismological observations. In contrast, the orientation of SHmax is highly uniform across most of the South Island (averaging c. 115) and collinear with the axis of relative contractional strain rate. Analysis of focal mechanisms recorded before and after the damaging MW6.2 Christchurch earthquake of 22 February 2010 reveals no significant change in SHmax orientation or the overall stress regime: this suggests that even the high-stress drop Christchurch earthquake was incapable of substantially modifying the ambient stress field, at least on the scales at which focal mechanism stress estimation can be performed.

  1. Fostering Inquiry and Scientific Investigation in Students by Using GPS Data to Explore Plate Tectonics and Volcanic Deformation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Olds, S. E.; Eriksson, S.

    2007-12-01

    The Education and Outreach program at UNAVCO has developed free instructional materials using authentic high-precision GPS data for secondary education and undergraduate students in Earth science courses. Using inquiry-based, data-rich activities, students investigate crustal deformation and plate motion using GPS data and learn how these measurements are important to scientific discovery and understanding natural hazards and the current state of prediction. Because this deformation is expressed on Earth's surface over familiar time scales and on easily visualized orders of magnitude, GPS data represent an effective method for illustrating the geomorphic effects of plate tectonics and, in essence, allow students to 'see' plates move and volcanoes deform. The activities foster student skills to critically assess different forms of data, to visualize abstract concepts, and to evaluate multiple lines of evidence to analyze scientific problems. The activities are scaffolded to begin with basic concepts about GPS data and analyzing simple plate motion and move towards data analyses for more complex motion and crustal deformation. As part of assessment, students can apply new knowledge to explore other geographic regions independently. Learning activities currently include exploring motion along the San Andreas Fault, monitoring volcano deformation and ground movement at the Yellowstone Caldera, and analyzing ground motion along the subduction zone in the Cascadia region. To support educators and their students in their investigations, UNAVCO has developed the Data for Educators portal; http://www.unavco.org/edu_outreach/data.html. This portal provides a Google-map displaying the locations of GPS stations, web links to numerical GPS data that illustrate specific Earth processes, and educational activities that incorporate this data. The GPS data is freely available in a format compatible with standard spreadsheet and graphing programs as well as visualization and analysis tools such as the Integrated Data Viewer (IDV). After becoming familiar with the data available through the Data for Educators portal, students are more prepared to use the full UNAVCO data archive to conduct their own independent investigations.

  2. Accretionary Complexes: Recorders of Plate Tectonism and Environmental Conditions Through Time on Earth and Possibly Those Early Noachian (Hadean-equivalent) in Age on Mars

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dohm, J. M.; Maruyama, S.; Miyamoto, H.; Viviano-Beck, C. E.; Anderson, R. C.

    2014-12-01

    On Earth, highlighted in Japan, North America, Europe, and Greenland, accretionary complexes comprehensively record information compiled while the oceanic crust is en route from the mid-oceanic ridge to the subduction zone, spanning hundreds of millions of years. At the zone, oceanic crustal materials are stacked along thrust faults and/or subducted to be eventually recycled into the mantle. The surviving accretionary-complex materials include Ocean Plate Stratigraphy (OPS). The ideal succession of the OPS (from oldest to youngest) is mid-ocean ridge basalt, pelagic sediment including radiolarian chert, hemipelagic sediment including siliceous shale, and trench turbidite deposits. Therefore, accretionary complexes often record diverse environmental conditions from deep- to shallow-marine environments, including those perturbed by magmatic, impact, and possibly extrasolar events. Stratigraphic, impact-crater, paleotectonic, and magnetic-anomaly information point to Early Noachian (Hadean-equivalent) Martian geologic terrains; they are extremely ancient environmental records compared to those destroyed on Earth due to differences in planetary mass and evolutional states. Such record a dynamic phase of the evolution of Mars, including interacting ocean, landmass, and atmosphere, as well as possible plate tectonism during an operating dynamo. A candidate accretionary complex and nearby outcrops of steeply dipping beds comprising olistostrome-like blocks, nearby and in the Claritas rise, respectively, may be key evidence of major crustal shortening related to plate tectonism, in addition to being extremely ancient environmental records. Claritas rise is a rugged promontory about 250 km across, which forms the northwest part of an extremely ancient and large mountain range, Thaumasia highlands, with a length nearing 2,400 km, or approximating that of the Himalayas. Future investigation of the ancient Martian basement, which includes geochemical analyses for possible OPS sequences (an important test for the accretionary-complex hypothesis), as well as reconnaissance for other parts of Pacific-type orogenic complexes, which includes metamorphic belts, ophiolite sequences, and belts of felsic materials, will be an important next phase in the geologic investigation of Mars.

  3. An Experimental Study of Incremental Surface Loading of an Elastic Plate: Application to Volcano Tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Williams, K. K.; Zuber, M. T.

    1995-01-01

    Models of surface fractures due to volcanic loading an elastic plate are commonly used to constrain thickness of planetary lithospheres, but discrepancies exist in predictions of the style of initial failure and in the nature of subsequent fracture evolution. In this study, we perform an experiment to determine the mode of initial failure due to the incremental addition of a conical load to the surface of an elastic plate and compare the location of initial failure with that predicted by elastic theory. In all experiments, the mode of initial failure was tension cracking at the surface of the plate, with cracks oriented circumferential to the load. The cracks nucleated at a distance from load center that corresponds the maximum radial stress predicted by analytical solutions, so a tensile failure criterion is appropriate for predictions of initial failure. With continued loading of the plate, migration of tensional cracks was observed. In the same azimuthal direction as the initial crack, subsequent cracks formed at a smaller radial distance than the initial crack. When forming in a different azimuthal direction, the subsequent cracks formed at a distance greater than the radial distance of the initial crack. The observed fracture pattern may explain the distribution of extensional structures in annular bands around many large scale, circular volcanic features.

  4. Rotational inertia of continents: A proposed link between polar wandering and plate tectonics

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kane, M.F.

    1972-01-01

    A mechanism is proposed whereby displacement between continents and the earth's pole of rotation (polar wandering) gives rise to latitudinal transport of continental plates (continental drift) because of their relatively greater rotational inertia. When extended to short-term polar wobble, the hypothesis predicts an energy change nearly equivalent to the seismic energy rate.

  5. Effects of Student-Generated Diagrams versus Student-Generated Summaries on Conceptual Understanding of Causal and Dynamic Knowledge in Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gobert, Janice D.; Clement, John J.

    1999-01-01

    Grade five students' (n=58) conceptual understanding of plate tectonics was measured by analysis of student-generated summaries and diagrams, and by posttest assessment of both the spatial/static and causal/dynamic aspects of the domain. The diagram group outperformed the summary and text-only groups on the posttest measures. Discusses the effects

  6. Effects of Student-Generated Diagrams versus Student-Generated Summaries on Conceptual Understanding of Causal and Dynamic Knowledge in Plate Tectonics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gobert, Janice D.; Clement, John J.

    1999-01-01

    Grade five students' (n=58) conceptual understanding of plate tectonics was measured by analysis of student-generated summaries and diagrams, and by posttest assessment of both the spatial/static and causal/dynamic aspects of the domain. The diagram group outperformed the summary and text-only groups on the posttest measures. Discusses the effects…

  7. Analysis of shear-wave splitting from volcano-tectonic events at Soufrire Hills volcano, Montserrat.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baird, A. F.; Kendall, J. M.; Sparks, R. S. J.; Baptie, B.

    2014-12-01

    Here we investigate seismic anisotropy of the upper crust in the vicinity of Soufrire Hills volcano using shear wave splitting (SWS) analysis from volcano-tectonic (VT) events. Soufrire Hills, which is located on the Island of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles, became active in 1995 and has been erupting ever since with 5 major phases of extrusive activity. We use data recored on a network of seismometers between 1996 and 2007 partially spanning three eruptive phases. Shear-wave splitting in the crust is often assumed to be controlled by either by structural features, or by stress aligned cracks. In such a case the polarisation of the fast shear wave (phi) would align parallel to the strike of the structure, or to the maximum compressive stress direction. Previous studies analysing SWS in the region using regional earthquakes observed temporal variations in phi which were interpreted as being caused by stress perturbations associated with pressurisation of a dyke. Our analysis, which uses much shallower sources and thus only samples the anisotropy of the upper few kilometres of the crust, shows no clear temporal variation. However, temporal effects cannot be ruled out, as large fluctuations in the rate of VT events over the course of the study period as well as changes in the seismic network configuration make it difficult to assess. Average delay times of approximately 0.2 seconds, similar in magnitude to that reported for much deeper slab events, suggest that the bulk of the anisotropy is in the shallow crust. We observe clear spatial variations in anisotropy which we believe are consistent with structurally controlled anisotropy resulting from a left-lateral transtensional array of faults which crosses the volcanic complex.

  8. 3-D Simulation of Steady Plate Subduction with Tectonic Erosion: Current Crustal Uplift and Free-Air Gravity Anomaly in Northeast Japan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hashimoto, Chihiro; Sato, Toshinori; Matsu'Ura, Mitsuhiro

    2008-04-01

    Free-air gravity anomaly in plate subduction zones, characterized by island-arc high, trench low and outer-rise gentle high, reflects the cumulative effects of long-term crustal uplift and subsidence. In northeast Japan the island-arc high of observed free-air gravity anomaly takes its maximum about the eastern coastline. On the other hand, the current vertical crustal motion estimated from geological and geomorphological observations shows a gentle uplift in the land area and steep subsidence in the sea area with the neutral point near the eastern coastline. Such a discrepancy in spatial patterns between the free-air gravity anomaly and current vertical crustal motion can be ascribed to a change in the mode of crustal uplift and subsidence associated with the initiation of tectonic erosion at the North American-Pacific plate interface. We developed a realistic 3-D simulation model of steady plate subduction with tectonic erosion in northeast Japan on the basis of elastic/viscoelastic dislocation theory. Through numerical simulations with this model we found that simple steady plate subduction brings about the crustal uplift characterized by island-arc high with its maximum about the eastern coastline, while steady plate subduction with tectonic erosion, which is represented by the landward retreat of the plate interface, brings about gentle uplift in the land area and steep subsidence in the sea area with the neutral point near the eastern coastline. Therefore, if we suppose that tectonic erosion started 3 4 million years ago after the long duration of simple steady plate subduction, we can consistently explain both patterns of free-air gravity anomaly and current crustal uplift in northeast Japan.

  9. GPS and tectonic evidence for a diffuse plate boundary at the Azores Triple Junction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Marques, F. O.; Catalão, J. C.; DeMets, C.; Costa, A. C. G.; Hildenbrand, A.

    2013-11-01

    We use GPS, bathymetric/structural, and seismic data to define the pattern of present deformation along the northern half of the Azores plateau, where the Nubia-Eurasia plate boundary terminates at the axis of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). New and existing campaign GPS velocities from the Azores islands reveal extension oblique to a series of en échelon volcanic ridges occupied by Terceira, S. Jorge, Pico, and Faial islands. In a frame of reference defined by 69 continuous GPS stations on the Eurasia plate, Terceira Island moves 2±1 mm/yr away from Eurasia, consistent with the island's location within the Terceira Rift and plate boundary structure. The volcanic ridges south of the Terceira Rift move toward WSW at progressively faster rates, reaching a maximum of 3.5±0.5 mm/yr (2-σ) for the Pico/Faial volcanic ridge. The hypothesis that the Terceira Rift accommodates all Nubia-Eurasia plate motion is rejected at high confidence level based on the motions of sites on S. Jorge Island just west of Terceira Rift. All of the islands move relative to the Nubia plate, with Pico Island exhibiting the slowest motion, only 1±0.5 mm/yr (2-σ). Detailed bathymetry from the interior of the hypothesized Azores microplate reveals faults that crosscut young MAR seafloor fabric. These observations and the GPS evidence for distributed deformation described above argue against the existence of a rigid or semi-rigid Azores microplate, and instead suggest that Nubia-Eurasia plate motion is accommodated by extension across a ˜140-km-wide zone east of the MAR axis, most likely bounded to the north by the northern shoulder of the Terceira Rift. The MAR spreading rate along the western end of the Azores deformation zone (˜38.5°N-39.5°N) is intermediate between the Eurasia-North America rate measured at 39.5°N and the Nubia-North America rate measured at 38.5°N, consistent with the joint conclusions that the Nubia-Eurasia boundary is broad where it intersects the MAR, and the Azores Triple Junction is diffuse rather than discrete.

  10. Episodic vs. Continuous Accretion in the Franciscan Accretionary Prism and Direct Plate Motion Controls vs. More Local Tectonic Controls on Prism Evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dumitru, T. A.; Ernst, W. G.; Wakabayashi, J.

    2011-12-01

    Subduction at the Franciscan trench began ≈170-165 Ma and continues today off Oregon-Washington. Plate motion reconstructions, high-P metamorphic rocks, and the arc magmatic record suggest that convergence and thus subduction were continuous throughout this period, although data for 170 to 120 Ma are less definitive. About 25% of modern subduction zones are actively building an accretionary prism, whereas 75% are nonaccretionary, in which subduction erosion is gradually removing the prism and/or forearc basement. These contrasting behaviors in modern subduction zones suggest that the Franciscan probably fluctuated between accretionary and nonaccretionary modes at various times and places during its 170 million year lifespan. Accumulating geochronologic data are beginning to clarify certain accretionary vs. nonaccretionary intervals. (1) The oldest Franciscan rocks are high-P mafic blocks probably metamorphosed in a subophiolitic sole during initiation of subduction. They yield garnet Lu-Hf and hornblende Ar/Ar ages from ≈169 to 147 Ma. Their combined volume is extremely small and much of the Franciscan was probably in an essentially nonaccretionary mode during this period. (2) The South Fork Mountain Schist forms the structural top of the preserved wedge in northern California and thus was apparently the first genuinely large sedimentary body to accrete. This occurred at ≈123 Ma (Ar/Ar ages), suggesting major accretion was delayed a full ≈45 million years after the initiation of subduction. The underlying Valentine Spring Fm. accreted soon thereafter. This shift into an accretionary mode was nearly synchronous with the end of the Early Cretaceous magmatic lull and the beginning of the prolonged Cretaceous intensification of magmatism in the Sierra Nevada arc. (3) The Yolla Bolly terrane has generally been assigned a latest Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous age. Detrital zircon data confirm that some latest Jurassic sandstones are present, but they may be blocks in olistotromes and the bulk of the terrane may be mid-Cretaceous trench sediments. (4) New data from the Central mélange belt are pending. (5) Detrital zircon ages suggest much of the voluminous Coastal belt was deposited in a short, rapid surge in the Middle Eocene, coincident with major extension, core complex development, volcanism, and erosion in sediment source areas in Idaho-Montana. Rapid Tyee Fm deposition in coastal Oregon occurred at virtually the same time from the same sources. (6) Exposed post-Eocene Franciscan rocks are rare. It is tempting to ascribe subduction zone tectonic events directly to changes in relative motions between the subducting and overriding lithospheric plates. However, in modern subduction zones, varying sediment supply to the trench appears to be a more important control on accretionary prism evolution and this seems to be the case in the Franciscan as well. Franciscan accretion was apparently influenced primarily by complex continental interior tectonics controlling sediment supply from the North American Cordillera (which may in part reflect plate motion changes), rather than directly by changes in the motions of tectonic plates.

  11. What Controls Space-Time Patterns of Magmatism in Western North America: Plate Tectonics, Delamination, or Convection?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Glazner, A. F.

    2007-05-01

    Mesozoic and Cenozoic magmatism in western North America is commonly explained by shallowing and steepening of subduction along the west coast of North America, and progressive destruction of the subduction system by development of the San Andreas transform fault system. This hypothesis makes several specific predictions about space-time patterns of magmatism, including eastward and westward sweeps, development of slab-window magmatism, and progressive northward extinction of an ancestral Cascade arc. However, analysis of space-time patterns using the NAVDAT database indicates that these predicted patterns are curiously obscure in the magmatic record, although other unexplained patterns are strong. Animation of about 29,000 Cenozoic U.S. points from NAVDAT (www.navdat.org) demonstrates that: (1) calc- alkaline, intermediate volcanism is poorly linked to the subduction system; (2) there is little evidence for slab- window magmatism; (3) there was no ancestral Cascade arc south of Oregon until ca. 10 Ma; (4) magmatism shifted from primarily silicic to dominantly basaltic throughout the Miocene; and (5) magmatism was clearly migratory in several directions in ways that cannot be explained by plate-tectonic processes, at length scales ranging from 1000s to 10s of km. Space-time patterns that cannot be readily linked to plate-tectonic control include: (1) a silicic sweep from Montana into Nevada from 50 to 20 Ma; (2) a clockwise sweep around the Colorado Plateau from New Mexico to southern Nevada from about 30 to 15 Ma; (3) a burst of magmatism at about 16 Ma in northern Nevada, followed by outward sweeps to Yellowstone, Oregon, and the Sierra Nevada; (4) progressive encroachment of basaltic magmatism onto the Colorado Plateau, and (5) several local migrations, including from Phoenix north onto the Colorado Plateau and from the San Francisco Bay area north to the Geysers geothermal field. These migrations typically occurred at 20-50 mm/yr. Possible origins include convective upwelling related to extension, local, migrating delamination of the North American lithosphere or subducted Farallon plate, edge-driven convection at lithospheric discontinuities, and forced convection as the subducted Mendocino fracture zone scraped under North America.

  12. The Northern Caribbean Plate Boundary Offshore Hispaniola: Strike-slip and Compressive Tectonic Processes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Corbeau, J.; Rolandone, F.; Leroy, S. D.; Mercier De Lepinay, B. F.; Meyer, B.; Ellouz, N.

    2014-12-01

    The boundary between the Caribbean plate and the North American plate is transpressive due to the oblique collision between these two plates. The transpressive movement is partitioned and accommodated in the Hispaniola region along two left-lateral strike-slip structures surrounding a fold-and-thrust belt. New multibeam bathymetry data and multichannel seismic reflection profiles have been recently collected during the Haiti-SIS and Haiti-SIS 2 cruises, along part of the northern Caribbean plate boundary between Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola. From the north to the south, three types of deformations are observed. In the Windward Passage, the analysis of the data set reveals that the movement on the Oriente fault between Cuba and Hispaniola is purely left-lateral strike-slip according to the GPS measurements. In the Gonave basin, west of Hispaniola, the deformation is compressive. A series of folds is identified and moves toward the southwest. The Enriquillo-Plantain-Garden Fault (EPGF) is localized in the Jamaica Passage, between Jamaica and Hispaniola. The analysis of the data set reveals that the left-lateral EPGF recently intersects inherited basins from the eastern Cayman Trough margin. The study of the actual EPGF active trace shows that this fault moves with a pure strike-slip component, at least in its western part: the presence of a little push-up structure and a set of three en echelon folds is highlighting in the western part of the Jamaica Passage. The shortening rate in the inherited basins crossed by the EPGF increases from west to east (5.8% to 8.5%), indicating that a thrusting component is also accommodated around the EPGF.

  13. The effect of plumes and a free surface on mantle dynamics with continents and self-consistent plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jain, Charitra; Rozel, Antoine; Tackley, Paul

    2014-05-01

    Rolf et al. (EPSL, 2012) and Coltice et al. (Science, 2012) investigated the thermal and dynamical influences of continents on plate tectonics and the thermal state of Earth's mantle, but they did not explicitly consider the influence of mantle plumes. When present, strong mantle plumes arising from the deep mantle can impose additional stresses on the continents, thereby facilitating continental rifting (Storey, Nature 1995; Santosh et al., Gondwana Research 2009) and disrupting the supercontinent cycle (Philips and Bunge, Geology 2007). In recent years, several studies have characterized the relation between the location of the plumes and the continents, but with contradicting observations. While Heron and Lowman (GRL, 2010; Tectonophysics, 2011) propose regions where downwelling has ceased (irrespective of overlying plate) as the preferred location for plumes, O'Neill et al. (Gondwana Research, 2009) show an anti-correlation between the average positions of subducting slabs at continental margins, and mantle plumes at continental/oceanic interiors. Continental motion is attributed to the viscous stresses imparted by the convecting mantle and the extent of this motion depends on the heat budget of the mantle. Core-mantle boundary (CMB) heat flux, internal heating from decay of radioactive elements, and mantle cooling contribute to this heat budget. Out of these sources, CMB heat flux is not well defined; however, the recent determination that the core's thermal conductivity is much higher than previously thought requires a CMB heat flow of at least 12 TW (de Koker et al., PNAS 2012; Pozzo et al., Nature 2012; Gomi et al., PEPI 2013), much higher than early estimates of 3-4 TW (Lay et al., Nature 2008). Thus, it is necessary to characterize the effect of increased CMB heat flux on mantle dynamics. In almost all mantle convection simulations, the top boundary is treated as a free-slip surface whereas Earth's surface is a deformable free surface. With a free-slip boundary condition, the uppermost part of the model is not allowed to move vertically. In contrast, a free surface boundary condition allows for the development of topography and leads to realistic single-sided (asymmetric) subduction (Crameri et al., GJI 2012; Crameri et al., GRL 2012). A free-slip surface may also create incorrect stresses in the model continents, forcing them to spread horizontally along the boundary to minimize the gravitational potential. This is something we aim to test here. Here, we test (i) the impact of increased basal heating on mantle dynamics with continents and self-consistent plate tectonics, including whether plumes prefer to develop under continents; (ii) the influence of a free surface on continents in the context of self-consistent plate tectonics. The existing model from Rolf et al. (EPSL 2012) is developed further but with weaker continents. A 'sticky-air' approach is used, in which a low density and a small viscosity fluid layer is added to the top of the model. We study these using StagYY code (Tackley, PEPI 2008), which uses a finite-volume discretization, a multigrid solver to obtain a velocity-pressure solution at each timestep on a staggered grid and tracers to track composition.

  14. Plate tectonics, ancient crust, and the geochemical evolution of the mantle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brandenburg, J.; Hauri, E.; van Keken, P.; Ballentine, C.

    2007-12-01

    Isotopic ratios measured in oceanic basalts indicate the presence of variably mixed depleted, enriched and pristine components in the convecting mantle. A persistent dense layer at the base of the mantle may modulate the isotopic composition of enriched compositional end members, particularly if this layer is at least partially composed of ancient oceanic crust. We model the generation of a dense layer from subducted crust in models with stiff mobile plates approximated by the force-balance method [1][2]. The inclusion of plates allows us to self- consistently model crust petrogenesis at divergent plate boundaries. An embedded geochemical model tracks the isotopic evolution of Pb,U,Th,Sm,Nd,Rb,Sr,Re,Os, and He within this model framework. By varying thermal convective vigor and chemical density within reasonable parameter values, we investigate the admissible range of model behavior. In all cases we find that the extraction of continental crust is essential to reproduce the spread of observed isotope ratios. The size and longevity of pools of ancient oceanic crust at the base of the mantle further modulate isotope systematics by delaying the remixing of ancient oceanic crust. With no chemical buoyancy the average age of melting forms a gradient between lower and upper mantle values of 1.5 and 2.75 Byr respectively. With dense oceanic crust the gradient becomes discontinuous, producing an older upper mantle age in excess of 3.0 Byr. This indicates an average residence time of pooled crust on the order of 250 to 500 Myr, and leads to more distinct separation between isotopic end-member compositions. Using these relationships, we construct a series of viable continental crust extraction scenarios and compare these with published models. Mass balance calculations are performed and the role of the pooled oceanic crust as a complimentary reservoir to the continental crust is evaluated. [1] Gable, C.W., R.J. O'Connell, B.J. Travis (1991) "Convection in 3 dimensions with surface plates; generation of a toroidal flow," J. Geophys. Res., 89, 8391--8405 [2] Brandenburg, J.P., P.E. van Keken (2007) "Methods for thermochemical convection in Earth's mantle with force-balanced plates," Revised version submitted to Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst.

  15. Potential use of Volcano Tectonic Events to Forecast and Predict Eruptions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Palacios, P. B.; Cordoba, G.; Yepes, H. A.

    2006-12-01

    The magnitude of volcano tectonic events is analyzed for some volcanoes of Ecuador and Colombia. In this study, sequential temporal samples are taken and confidence intervals for the population mean magnitude are computed. In each studied volcano the temporal variation of the confidence intervals are statistically significant and we assume this results as evidence of the inner stress changes. Before the eruptions the sequence of the confidence intervals form a pick, probably related to a strong inner stress change, and we propose use it as indicator to forecast eruptions. Each volcano has been considered as a single system and also using the confidence intervals, consecutive levels of the system stage have been defined. The time of transition on these levels has been used to propose a linear statistic model to predict the time of eruption. One successful forecast (before the eruption at July 21, 2004) and two successful predictions (before the eruptions at November 24, 2005 and July 12, 2006) about Galeras volcano are presented.

  16. A tale of two arcs? Plate tectonics of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) arc using subducted slab constraints

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wu, J. E.; Suppe, J.; Renqi, L.; Kanda, R. V. S.

    2014-12-01

    Published plate reconstructions typically show the Izu-Bonin Marianas arc (IBM) forming as a result of long-lived ~50 Ma Pacific subduction beneath the Philippine Sea. These reconstructions rely on the critical assumption that the Philippine Sea was continuously coupled to the Pacific during the lifetime of the IBM arc. Because of this assumption, significant (up to 1500 km) Pacific trench retreat is required to accommodate the 2000 km of Philippine Sea/IBM northward motion since the Eocene that is constrained by paleomagnetic data. In this study, we have mapped subducted slabs of mantle lithosphere from MITP08 global seismic tomography (Li et al., 2008) and restored them to a model Earth surface to constrain plate tectonic reconstructions. Here we present two subducted slab constraints that call into question current IBM arc reconstructions: 1) The northern and central Marianas slabs form a sub-vertical 'slab wall' down to maximum 1500 km depths in the lower mantle. This slab geometry is best explained by a near-stationary Marianas trench that has remained +/- 250 km E-W of its present-day position since ~45 Ma, and does not support any significant Pacific slab retreat. 2) A vanished ocean is revealed by an extensive swath of sub-horizontal slabs at 700 to 1000 km depths in the lower mantle below present-day Philippine Sea to Papua New Guinea. We call this vanished ocean the 'East Asian Sea'. When placed in an Eocene plate reconstruction, the East Asian Sea fits west of the reconstructed Marianas Pacific trench position and north of the Philippine Sea plate. This implies that the Philippine Sea and Pacific were not adjacent at IBM initiation, but were in fact separated by a lost ocean. Here we propose a new IBM arc reconstruction constrained by subducted slabs mapped under East Asia. At ~50 Ma, the present-day IBM arc initiated at equatorial latitudes from East Asian Sea subduction below the Philippine Sea. A separate arc was formed from Pacific subduction below the East Asian Sea. The Philippine Sea plate moved northwards, overrunning the East Asian Sea and the two arcs collided between 15 to 20 Ma. From 15 Ma to the present, IBM arc magmatism was produced by Pacific subduction beneath the Philippine Sea.

  17. On plate tectonics and the geologic evolution of southwestern North America

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Ward, P.L.

    1991-01-01

    Very rapid subduction of the Farallon plate under southwestern North America between 60 and 40 Ma was accompanied by a relatively low volume of magmatism throughout the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Between 40 and 20 Ma, when subduction slowed significantly and in one area may have even stopped, magmatism became widespread and voluminous from Nevada and Utah to central Mexico. This correlation of rapid subduction with a relatively low volume of magmatism can be explained by the observation that subduction-related andesitic arc volcanism, often formed in a Laramide-style compressional regime, is relatively low volume compared to continental volcanism. -from Author

  18. Succession of structural events in the Goren greenstone belt (Burkina Faso): Implications for West African tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hein, Kim A. A.

    2010-02-01

    Ten years after field investigations in the SE Goren greenstone belt (GGB) of Burkina Faso by the Sanmatenga J.V., sponsored field studies conducted in 2007 have significantly enhanced structural datasets. The studies in 2007 were conducted across an expanded area of the GGB that included both southwestern and northeastern domains, and portions of the Pissila batholith to the west of the GGB. A revision of tectonic models proposed by Hein et al. [Hein, K.A.A., Morel, V., Kagon, O., Kiemde, F., Mayes, K., 2004. Birimian lithological succession and structural evolution in the Goren Segment of the Boromo-Goren Greenstone Belt, Burkina Faso. Journal of African Earth Sciences 39, 1-23] is now possible. Three deformation events characterise the Goren greenstone belt. The deformation, D1 (previously D3) resulted in the formation of NW to NNW-trending steeply-dipping dextral-reverse shear zones folds and a penetrative S1-C schistosity that formed during a period of NE-SW shortening. The event is termed the Tangaean Event because it can be correlated across NE Burkina Faso in the Boromo, Bouroum, Yalago and Oudalan-Gorouol greenstone belts. The deformation, D2 (previously D2) resulted in the progressive development of NNE to NE-trending macroscopic to mesoscopic folds and a penetrative axial planar cleavage (S2), which was followed by the formation of dextral- and sinistral-reverse shears and a pervasive schistosity (S2-C). The first-order crustal-scale Sabce Shear Zone, which traverses the northern portion of the study area, is associated with macroscopic anticlockwise drag rotation of NW to NNW-trending D1 shears and folds: (the macroscopic fold was previously classified as D1). D2 in the GGB corresponds with the Eburnean Orogeny at 2130-1980 Ma, as described by [Feybesse, J.-L., Billa, M., Guerrot, C., Duguey, E., Lescuyer, J.-L, Milesi, J.-P., Bouchot, V., 2006, The paleoproterozoic Ghanian province: geodynamic model and ore controls, including regional stress modelling. Precambrian Research, 149-196]. The deformation D3 (previously D4) is recognised throughout the GGB. It is characterised by the formation of kinks and chevron folds (F3), or crenulation cleavage (S3) that are hosted by narrow WNW-trending shear zones. These formed during a period of north-south shortening termed the Wabo-Tampelse Event that post-dates the Eburnean Orogeny.

  19. Paleomagnetism of the Joban Seamount Chain: Its origin and tectonic implications for the Pacific plate

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Masalu, Desiderius C. P.; Tamaki, Kensaku; Sager, William W.

    1997-03-01

    The paleomagnetism of 10 seamounts from the Joban Seamount Chain (northwestern Pacific) were studied using a method that calculates mean magnetization parameters by an inversion of magnetic anomaly and edifice bathymetry. Of the 10 seamounts, eight gave results consistent with other paleomagnetic studies of Pacific seamounts. Joban seamounts appear to have formed at two different mean paleolatitudes, contrary to what would be expected for a single hotspot origin. Furthermore, six of the consistent poles plot along the 129 to 82 Ma portion of the Pacific plate apparent polar wander path (APWP), implying the seamounts formed mainly during the mid- to Late Cretaceous. Two other poles, from Iwaki and Hitachi seamounts, are located northwest of the older end of the established Pacific APWP, possibly indicating Early Cretaceous ages. Because Iwaki and Hitachi seamounts are located in the middle of the chain, age does not progress along the chain, arguing against a single-hotspot origin. Perhaps the chain formed by recurrent volcanism along a line of weakness or by another mechanism. Iwaki and Hitachi seamounts display smaller northward drift compared to the others, consistent with the Pacific plate drifting southward from Late Jurassic or Early Cretaceous to mid-Cretaceous time.

  20. Why Understanding When and How Plate Tectonics Began Is Essential for a Robust Theory of the Earth

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Stern, R. J.; Gerya, T.

    2014-12-01

    Understanding when and how Plate Tectonics (PT) began and what came before has profound implications for understanding the Earth because the transition to PT from the previous tectonic regime - some variant of deformable lid tectonics (DLT)- resulted in faster cooling and enhanced recycling of surface materials to depth. The transition to PT also would have impacted ocean chemistry, climate and life evolution. There is no consensus about when PT began on Earth; estimates range from >4.2 Ga to ~0.85 Ga. Three pillars of a robust Theory of the Earth illustrate the importance of answering this question: (1) the solid Earth volatile cycle; (2) the Urey ratio; and (3) the kimberlite enigma. For (1), it is now clear that subduction injects more H2O (and probably CO2) into Earth's mantle- where it is stored - than is released to the surface by igneous activity. Presumably the volatile flux from the surface into the mantle was lower during DLT episodes, although delamination and Rayleigh-Taylor drippings would have sent some. Constraining PT H2O and CO2 fluxes requires knowing when PT began and interior soaking accelerated. Regarding (2), estimating Earth's Urey ratio (Ur; heat production/heat loss) evolution requires avoiding the "thermal catastrophe" implying that if Earth has been cooling off as fast as presently (Ur ~0.2) then it must have been totally molten 1-2 Ga; a transition from DLT (high Ur) to PT (low Ur) may resolve the paradox. Finally (3), why are the vast majority of kimberlites of Phaneozoic age? Is it because erosion has removed the evidence or because sufficient H2O-CO2 rich fluids that drive such eruptions have only been delivered below cratonic lithosphere since deep subduction associated with PT began? Determining when did PT start, what was Earth's DLT-regime before this, and how did the transition occur will require the insights of the entire geoscientific community, providing a worthy set of 21st Century geoscientific research priorities.

  1. Geology of the Eoarchean, > 3.95 Ga, Nulliak supracrustal rocks in the Saglek Block, northern Labrador, Canada: The oldest geological evidence for plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Komiya, Tsuyoshi; Yamamoto, Shinji; Aoki, Shogo; Sawaki, Yusuke; Ishikawa, Akira; Tashiro, Takayuki; Koshida, Keiko; Shimojo, Masanori; Aoki, Kazumasa; Collerson, Kenneth D.

    2015-11-01

    The Earth is a unique planet, which has been highly evolved, diversified and complicated through geologic time, and underwent many key events, including giant impact, magma ocean, core formation, large-scale mantle differentiation and late heavy bombardment, especially in its dawn. But, our knowledge of early Earth is limited due to the lack of the Hadean supracrustal rocks. The supracrustal rocks with the Eoarchean ages provide key evidence for the Earth's early evolution, but few supracrustal rocks have been comprehensively investigated. Therefore, we mapped in seven areas of the Saglek Block, northern Labrador, where ancient supracrustal sequences are interleaved with a diverse assemblage of orthogneisses. Early studies suggested that some of them have the Mesoarchean ages because of the lack of the Mesoarchean Saglek dyke, but we found the Saglek dykes in the areas to recognize the Eoarchean Nulliak supracrustal rocks and Uivak Gneiss in all the areas. Recent reassessment of U-Pb dating and cathodoluminescence observation of zircons from the oldest suites of the Uivak Gneiss showed that the Uivak Gneiss has the Eoarchean age, > 3.95 Ga, and forms the Iqaluk-Uivak Gneiss series. Because our geological survey clearly showed that the Iqaluk-Uivak Gneisses were intruded into the Nulliak supracrustal belts, the Nulliak supracrustal rocks are the oldest supracrustal rock in the world. The supracrustal belts consist of piles of fault-bounded blocks, which are composed of the ultramafic rocks, mafic rocks and sedimentary rocks in ascending order, similar to modern ocean plate stratigraphy (OPS). In addition, small-scale duplex structures are found over the areas. The presence of duplex structure and OPS indicates that the > 3.95 Ga Nulliak supracrustal belts originate from an accretionary complex. The presence of the accretionary complex, ophiolite and granitic continental crust provides the oldest evidence for the plate tectonics on the early Earth.

  2. It's "Your" Fault!: An Investigation into Earthquakes, Plate Tectonics, and Geologic Time

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clary, Renee; Wandersee, James

    2011-01-01

    Earthquakes "have" been in the news of late--from the disastrous 2010 Haitian temblor that killed more than 300,000 people to the March 2011 earthquake and devastating tsunami in Honshu, Japan, to the unexpected August 2011 earthquake in Mineral, Virginia, felt from Alabama to Maine and as far west as Illinois. As expected, these events aroused

  3. It's "Your" Fault!: An Investigation into Earthquakes, Plate Tectonics, and Geologic Time

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clary, Renee; Wandersee, James

    2011-01-01

    Earthquakes "have" been in the news of late--from the disastrous 2010 Haitian temblor that killed more than 300,000 people to the March 2011 earthquake and devastating tsunami in Honshu, Japan, to the unexpected August 2011 earthquake in Mineral, Virginia, felt from Alabama to Maine and as far west as Illinois. As expected, these events aroused…

  4. 3-D simulation of tectonic evolution of the Mariana arc back-arc system with a coupled model of plate subduction and back-arc spreading

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hashima, Akinori; Fukahata, Yukitoshi; Matsu'ura, Mitsuhiro

    2008-10-01

    We developed a mechanical model for the nonlinear, coupled system of plate subduction and back-arc spreading on the basis of mathematical formulation for internal deformation due to a moment tensor in an elastic-viscoelastic layered half-space under gravity. In our modeling the plate subduction and the back-arc spreading are rationally represented by the increase of tangential displacement discontinuity at the plate interface and normal displacement discontinuity at the spreading center, respectively. Through 3-D numerical simulation with this model we obtained a possible scenario for the tectonic evolution of back-arc basins as follows. At the first stage, steady plate subduction gradually forms tensile stress fields in the back-arc region. When the accumulated tensile stress reaches a critical level, back-arc spreading starts at a structurally weak portion of the overriding plate. The back-arc spreading pushes out the frontal part of the overriding plate toward the plate boundary and leads to the increase of slip rates at the plate interface. The local increase of slip rates at the plate interface produces additional tensile stress in the back-arc region. The incremental tensile stress is canceled out by further back-arc spreading. Such a feedback mechanism is necessary to maintain steady back-arc spreading. The long duration of slip-rate excess due to back-arc spreading leads to the gradual protrusion of the plate boundary toward the descending plate (trench retreat). As the plate boundary moves away from the back-arc spreading center, the accumulation rate of tensile stress at the spreading center gradually decreases, and the slip-rate excess at the plate interface due to back-arc spreading also decreases. Then, the original back-arc spreading center becomes less effective in releasing the tectonic tensile stress, and new active back-arc spreading will start somewhere closer to the plate boundary. Such a qualitative scenario accords with the evolution history of back-arc basins in the Mariana region. We obtained the slip-rate excess of 7 mm/year at the plate interface and the 20 km trench retreat for the last 4.5 Myr. These simulation results are significantly smaller than observations in the Mariana region. The discrepancy between simulation results and observations can be ascribed to the effect of the negative buoyancy acting on cold descending slab, which advances spontaneous plate subduction and directly increases the slip-rate excess and the trench retreat in our model.

  5. Tree Tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vogt, Peter R.

    2004-09-01

    Nature often replicates her processes at different scales of space and time in differing media. Here a tree-trunk cross section I am preparing for a dendrochronological display at the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Nature Sanctuary (Calvert County, Maryland) dried and cracked in a way that replicates practically all the planform features found along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge (see Figure 1). The left-lateral offset of saw marks, contrasting with the right-lateral ``rift'' offset, even illustrates the distinction between transcurrent (strike-slip) and transform faults, the latter only recognized as a geologic feature, by J. Tuzo Wilson, in 1965. However, wood cracking is but one of many examples of natural processes that replicate one or several elements of lithospheric plate tectonics. Many of these examples occur in everyday venues and thus make great teaching aids, ``teachable'' from primary school to university levels. Plate tectonics, the dominant process of Earth geology, also occurs in miniature on the surface of some lava lakes, and as ``ice plate tectonics'' on our frozen seas and lakes. Ice tectonics also happens at larger spatial and temporal scales on the Jovian moons Europa and perhaps Ganymede. Tabletop plate tectonics, in which a molten-paraffin ``asthenosphere'' is surfaced by a skin of congealing wax ``plates,'' first replicated Mid-Oceanic Ridge type seafloor spreading more than three decades ago. A seismologist (J. Brune, personal communication, 2004) discovered wax plate tectonics by casually and serendipitously pulling a stick across a container of molten wax his wife and daughters had used in making candles. Brune and his student D. Oldenburg followed up and mirabile dictu published the results in Science (178, 301-304).

  6. Diachronous uplift and recycling of sedimentary basins during Cenozoic tectonic transpression, northeastern Caribbean plate margin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Heubeck, Christoph; Mann, Paul; Dolan, James; Monechi, Simonetta

    1991-02-01

    Four marine sedimentary sequences of Late Cretaceous to Pleistocene age crop out in the 320 km long, 1 to 30 km wide Peralta-Rio Ocoa belt of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic). The four sedimentary sequences are dominated by marine turbiditic rocks ranging up to 11.5 km in apparent thickness and exhibit mainly northwest to southeast, belt-parallel paleocurrents. The three younger sequences are generally in fault or unconformable contact with the underlying sequence. From northwest to southeast, the four belts become progressively wider, younger, less metamorphosed, less folded and faulted, and lower in topographic elevation. We interpret the three younger sequences as a syn-tectonic stratigraphic record of diachronous, northwest to southeast transpressional closure of a Coniacian-Danian back-arc basin represented by the oldest exposed sedimentary sequence at the northwest end of the belt and inferred at depth beneath the three younger sequences. Using the stratigraphic record, we infer the following three stages in the closure of the back-arc basin and the overlying younger basins. Stage One: latest Cretaceous to early Late Eocene closure. A minimum of 11 km of Paleocene turbidites and limestone in the Padre las Casas area and a minimum of 11.5 km of Early Eocene to early Late Eocene pelagic limestone, mudstone, sandstone, and siltstone in the Peralta and Sierra El Numero areas was deposited in an elongate basin derived from the first stage of latest Cretaceous-early Late Eocene closure and erosion of the Coniacian-Danian back-arc basin to the northwest. Paleocene-Eocene turbidites in both areas contain large amounts of reworked Campanian-Paleocene microfauna and exhibit northwest to southeast belt-parallel paleocurrents. Syn-deformational features in Eocene sedimentary rocks in the Peralta and Sierra El Numero area indicate that convergent deformation accompanied sedimentation (Witschard and Dolan, 1990). Stage Two: Middle Eocene to Early Miocene closure. Up to 8.6 km of Middle Eocene to Early Miocene turbidites, debris flows, and olistostromes of the Rio Ocoa Group of the Dominican Republic were deposited in an elongate basin derived from Middle Eocene to Early Miocene closure, uplift, and erosion of the Peralta Group to the west and northwest. Turbidites contain reworked Eocene faunas and lithologies similar to those in the underlying Peralta Group and exhibit northwest to southeast, belt-parallel paleocurrents. Erosion of Late Cretaceous island arc and overlying Paleogene carbonate rocks of the Cordillera Central provided additional belt-perpendicular sources of coarser-grained conglomerate and olistostromes. Following deposition of the Rio Ocoa Group, both the Peralta and the Rio Ocoa Group were deformed in a southwest-verging fold-and-thrust belt during the Early Miocene. Stage Three: Middle Miocene to Recent closure. Up to 1.5 km of Middle Miocene to Pleistocene sandstone, conglomerate, and reefal limestone of the Ingenio Caei Group of the Dominican Republic were deposited in an elongate basin above a pronounced angular unconformity developed on the older, deformed rocks of the Rio Ocoa Group. Sediments of the Ingenio Caei Group were derived from Middle Miocene to Recent closure, uplift, and erosion of the Rio Ocoa and Peralta Groups to the northwest. Onshore exposures of the Ingenio Caei Group can be correlated with submerged strata seen on seismic reflection profiles across the offshore San Pedro basin. Recent submarine clastic sedimentation in the San Pedro basin is dominated by northwest to southeast influx of clastic turbidites derived from active erosion of onshore exposures of the Rio Ocoa and Ingenio Caei Groups. Middle Miocene (?) to Recent sediments of the San Pedro basin are being actively shortened by northward to northeastward-directed underthrusting along the Muertos trench. Underthrusting at the Muertos trench is suggested to represent ongoing closure of the back-arc basin thought to be deeply buried beneath the San Pedro basin. Tectonic transpression along the closing back-arc basin marks o

  7. Metallogenic events and tectonic setting of the Duobaoshan ore field in Heilongjiang Province, NE China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hao, Yu-Jie; Ren, Yun-Sheng; Duan, Ming-Xin; Tong, Kuang-Yin; Chen, Cong; Yang, Qun; Li, Chao

    2015-01-01

    The Duobaoshan ore field, a major center of metal production in Northeast China, is located in the northeast of the Xing'an-Mongolia Orogenic Belt (the eastern part of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt) and within the northern Greater Xing'an Mountains. Several types of ore deposits are mined in the Duobaoshan region, including the Duobaoshan and Tongshan porphyry copper-molybdenum deposits, the Sankuanggou skarn iron-copper deposit, and the Zhengguang epithermal gold deposit. Zircon grains from the Tongshan granodiorite and porphyritic granite yield laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb weighted mean ages of 475.9 ± 0.8 Ma and 230.9 ± 0.9 Ma to 240.7 ± 0.8 Ma, respectively. The Re-Os isochron age of molybdenites from the Tongshan deposit is 473 ± 4 Ma. Because both field observations and petrographic analysis identified disseminated chalcopyrite, pyrite, and malachite in the porphyritic granite, the isotope dating indicates that the Tongshan deposit underwent at least two magmatic-mineralization events, during the Ordovician and the Triassic. Zircon grains from the metallogenic granodiorite of the Sankuanggou skarn deposit yield an age of 176.1 ± 0.3 Ma, and Re-Os dating of molybdenite gives an age of 173 ± 6 Ma, indicating a Jurassic event. Based on previous research and the new geochemical analysis presented in this study, it is inferred that the magmatism and mineralization of the Sankuanggou deposit were associated with the subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate. The Duobaoshan region has therefore experienced at least three major magmatic and mineralization events, during the Ordovician (470-480 Ma), the Triassic (230-240 Ma), and the Early Jurassic (170-180 Ma).

  8. Tectonic slicing of subducting oceanic crust along plate interfaces: Numerical modeling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ruh, J. B.; Le Pourhiet, L.; Agard, Ph.; Burov, E.; Gerya, T.

    2015-10-01

    Multikilometer-sized slivers of high-pressure low-temperature metamorphic oceanic crust and mantle are observed in many mountain belts. These blueschist and eclogite units were detached from the descending plate during subduction. Large-scale thermo-mechanical numerical models based on finite difference marker-in-cell staggered grid technique are implemented to investigate slicing processes that lead to the detachment of oceanic slivers and their exhumation before the onset of the continental collision phase. In particular, we investigate the role of the serpentinized subcrustal slab mantle in the mechanisms of shallow and deep crustal slicing. Results show that spatially homogeneous serpentinization of the sub-Moho slab mantle leads to complete accretion of oceanic crust within the accretionary wedge. Spatially discontinuous serpentinization of the slab mantle in form of unconnected patches can lead to shallow slicing of the oceanic crust below the accretionary wedge and to its deep slicing at mantle depths depending on the patch length, slab angle, convergence velocity and continental geothermal gradient. P-T paths obtained in this study are compared to natural examples of shallow slicing of the Crescent Terrane below Vancouver Island and deeply sliced crust of the Lago Superiore and Saas-Zermatt units in the Western Alps.

  9. Thick shell tectonics on one-plate planets - Applications to Mars

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Banerdt, W. B.; Saunders, R. S.; Phillips, R. J.; Sleep, N. H.

    1982-01-01

    Using the zero frequency equations of a self-gravitating elastic spherical shell overlying a strengthless fluid, a theory for stress distribution in thick lithospheric shells on one-plate planets is developed. For both the compensated and flexural modes, stress distributions in lithospheres are reviewed. For compensated modes, surface stresses depend only on surface topography, whereas for flexural modes it is shown that, for long wavelengths, stress trajectories are mainly dependent on the lithospheric lateral density distribution and not on elastic properties. Computational analyses are performed for Mars, and it is found that isostatically compensated models correctly predict the graben structure in the immediate Tharsis region and a flexural loading model is satisfactory in explaining the graben in the regions surrounding Tharsis. A three-stage model for the evolution of Tharsis is hypothesized: isostasy with north-south graben formation on Tharsis, followed by flexural loading and radial graben formation on the perimeter of Tharsis, followed by a last stage of loading with little or no regional deformation.

  10. Allochthonous deep-water basin deposits of the western US: Implications for Paleozoic paleogeography and plate margin tectonics

    SciTech Connect

    Miller, E.L. . Geology Dept.)

    1993-04-01

    The stratigraphy and sedimentology of the lower Paleozoic Roberts Mts. and upper Paleozoic Golconda allochthons can be used to reconstruct their general paleogeographic setting in the Paleozoic. Basalt pillow lavas and radiolarian chert, were once considered straightforward evidence that the allochthons represented imbricated ocean crust formed at sites far removed from continental influences. Better stratigraphic definition, provenance studies and geochemistry of lavas now indicate that clastic components were derived from the continental shelf or interior and basalts in the Roberts Mountains allochthon were erupted in an intraplate setting through thinned continental crust (Madrid, 1987). Both in the earliest Mississippian and in the Late Permian, the Antler Basin (Roberts Mts.) and the Havallah Basin (Golconda) received proximal detritus from island arc sources to the west, immediately prior to closure of the basins by thrust-faulting. These data suggest that both systems of basins formed as marginal basins by rifting on the continental shelf (Antler Basin) and along the continental margin (Havallah Basin) and were flanked to the west by active island arcs at least during part of their history. As such, their stratigraphy provides a great deal of insight regarding tectonism along the western plate margin of North America during the Paleozoic.

  11. Collision tectonics

    SciTech Connect

    Coward, M.P.; Ries, A.C.

    1985-01-01

    The motions of lithospheric plates have produced most existing mountain ranges, but structures produced as a result of, and following the collision of continental plates need to be distinguished from those produced before by subduction. If subduction is normally only stopped when collision occurs, then most geologically ancient fold belts must be collisional, so it is essential to recognize and understand the effects of the collision process. This book consists of papers that review collision tectonics, covering tectonics, structure, geochemistry, paleomagnetism, metamorphism, and magmatism.

  12. Crustal Structure at the North Eastern Tip of Rivera Plate, Nayarit- Marias Islands Region: Scenarios and Tectonic Implications. Tsujal Project

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Danobeitia, J.; Bartolome, R.; Barba, D. C., Sr.; Nunez-Cornu, F. J.; Bandy, W. L.; Prada, M.; Cameselle, A. L.; Nunez, D.; Espindola, J. M.; Estrada, F.; Zamora, A.; Gomez, A.; Ortiz, M.

    2014-12-01

    A primarily analysis of marine geophysical data acquired aboard the RRS James Cook in the framework of the project "Characterization of seismic hazard and tsunami associated with cortical contact structure Rivera Jalisco Block Plate (TSUJAL)" is presented. This survey was held in the region of Nayarit-Tres Marias Islands between February and March 2014. The examination of data recorded by 16 OBS 's, deployed along 4 wide angle seismic profiles is presented, using an airgun-array seismic source of 6800 c.i., which allows sampling the crustal structure to the Moho. The profiles are located along the margin off the Marias Islands: a profile of over 200 km NNW-SSE direction and parallel to the western flank of the Islas Marias Islands and three orthogonal thereto. These perpendicular sections sample the lithosphere from the north of Maria Madre Island with a profile of 100 km length, across Maria Magdalena and Mari Cleofas Islands, with a profile of 50 km long, till south of Maria Cleofas with a profile of 100 km long. Coincident multichannel seismic profiles with refraction ones are also surveyed, although shooting with a source of 3,540 c. i., and acquired with a digital "streamer" of 6.0 km long. Simultaneously, multibeam, parametric and potential field data were recorded during seismic acquisition A first analysis shows an anomalously thickened crust in the western flank of the Marias Islands, as indicated by relatively short pre-critical distances of 30-35 km. While the moderate dip of 7 ° of the subduction of the Pacific oceanic plate favors somehow this effect, the existence of a remnant crustal fragment is also likely. Moreover, the images provided by the parametric sounding show abundant mass wasting deposits suggesting of recent active tectonics, possibly generated by earthquakes with moderate magnitude as those reported in the Marias Islands. This set of geophysical data, not only provide valuable information for the seismogenic characterization and associated hazard with Rivera-Plate/Jalisco block, but it will also contribute to decipher the complex interplay between the accretion of the East Pacific Rise, the Magdalena Crest and the opening of the Gulf of California in the northeastern part of the diffuse Middle America Trench.

  13. Fault Slip Embedded in Creep: Insight into Tectonic Tremors and Slow Slip Events from Acoustic and Optical Monitoring of Fractures

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Elkhoury, J. E.; Lengline, O.; Ampuero, J. P.; Schmittbuhl, J.

    2010-12-01

    Observations of temporal and spatial correlations between slow slip earthquakes and tectonic tremor activity suggest a physical relation between them. Early descriptions of mechanisms relating these phenomena simply attributed the relation between seismic and aseismic events to fluid mediated processes. More recent hypotheses suggest that tectonic tremors are bursts of seismic energy due to the rupturing of small asperities within slow slipping regions. Here we present laboratory results of a unique experimental setting aimed at understanding the response to transient loads of a system of small asperities embedded in creep as a model of tectonic tremor activity triggered by slow slip and modulated by tides. We performed mode I crack propagation experiments on glass bead blasted and annealed 2D interfaces of transparent material (Polymethylmethacrylate) where fracture fronts were confined to the 2D weakness plane of the heterogeneous interface. We monitored acoustic emissions (AE) with piezo-electric sensors surrounding the crack front line. We also optically monitored the rupture front line with up to 1000 frames per second. The experimental loading conditions produce quasi-static front propagation at slow average speeds. Image processing reveals de-pinning along the front that we characterize as intermittent opening during slow front propagation. AE locations strongly correlate to the spatiotemporal clustering of the de-penning events along the front. Moreover, this correlation is preserved at the time of imposed transient fluctuations in loading during front propagation. Using the analogy between mode I and modes II and III fractures, our results translate into intermittent slip on faults linked to clustering of seismic activity produced by the breakage of asperities embedded in creeping regions with no need of invoking fluid mediated processes. Thus our experiments help reveal the interplay between aseismic and seismic slip on faults. We also observe qualitative similarities between the growth and migration of the embedded slip events in our experiments and migration patterns of tectonic tremors.

  14. A Review of the Isotopic and Trace Element Evidence for Mantle and Crustal Processes in the Hadean and Archean: implications for the Onset of Plate Tectonic Subduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smart, Katie A.; Tappe, Sebastian; Stern, Richard A.; Webb, Susan J.; Ashwal, Lewis D.

    2016-03-01

    Plate tectonics plays a vital role in the evolution of our planet. Geochemical analysis of Earth’s oldest continental crust suggests that subduction may have begun episodically about 3.8 to 3.2 billion years ago, during the early Archaean or perhaps more than 3.8 billion years ago, during the Hadean. Yet, mantle rocks record evidence for modern-style plate tectonics beginning only in the late Archaean, about 3 billion years ago. Here we analyse the nitrogen abundance, as well as the nitrogen and carbon isotopic signatures of Archaean placer diamonds from the Kaapvaal craton, South Africa, which formed in the upper mantle 3.1 to 3.5 billion years ago. We find that the diamonds have enriched nitrogen contents and isotopic compositions compared with typical mantle values. This nitrogen geochemical fingerprint could have been caused by contamination of the mantle by nitrogen-rich Archaean sediments. Furthermore, the carbon isotopic signature suggests that the diamonds formed by reduction of an oxidized fluid or melt. Assuming that the Archaean mantle was more reduced than the modern mantle, we argue that the oxidized components were introduced to the mantle by crustal recycling at subduction zones. We conclude, on the basis of evidence from mantle-derived diamonds, that modern-style plate tectonics operated as early as 3.5 billion years ago.

  15. GPS and seismological constraints on active tectonics and arc-continent collision in Papua New Guinea: Implications for mechanics of microplate rotations in a plate boundary zone

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wallace, Laura M.; Stevens, Colleen; Silver, Eli; McCaffrey, Rob; Loratung, Wesley; Hasiata, Suvenia; Stanaway, Richard; Curley, Robert; Rosa, Robert; Taugaloidi, Jones

    2004-05-01

    The island of New Guinea is located within the deforming zone between the Pacific and Australian plates that converge obliquely at 110 mm/yr. New Guinea has been fragmented into a complex array of microplates, some of which rotate rapidly about nearby vertical axes. We present velocities from a network of 38 Global Positioning System (GPS) sites spanning much of the nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The GPS-derived velocities are used to explain the kinematics of major tectonic blocks in the region and the nature of strain accumulation on major faults in PNG. We simultaneously invert GPS velocities, earthquake slip vectors on faults, and transform orientations in the Woodlark Basin for the poles of rotation of the tectonic blocks and the degree of elastic strain accumulation on faults in the region. The data are best explained by six distinct tectonic blocks: the Australian, Pacific, South Bismarck, North Bismarck, and Woodlark plates and a previously unrecognized New Guinea Highlands Block. Significant portions of the Ramu-Markham Fault appear to be locked, which has implications for seismic hazard determination in the Markham Valley region. We also propose that rapid clockwise rotation of the South Bismarck plate is controlled by edge forces initiated by the collision between the Finisterre arc and the New Guinea Highlands.

  16. Cenozoic tectonic and climatic events in southern Iberian Peninsula: Implications for the evolutionary history of freshwater fish of the genus Squalius (Actinopterygii, Cyprinidae).

    PubMed

    Perea, Silvia; Cobo-Simon, Marta; Doadrio, Ignacio

    2016-04-01

    Southern Iberian freshwater ecosystems located at the border between the European and African plates represent a tectonically complex region spanning several geological ages, from the uplifting of the Betic Mountains in the Serravalian-Tortonian periods to the present. This area has also been subjected to the influence of changing climate conditions since the Middle-Upper Pliocene when seasonal weather patterns were established. Consequently, the ichthyofauna of southern Iberia is an interesting model system for analyzing the influence of Cenozoic tectonic and climatic events on its evolutionary history. The cyprinids Squalius malacitanus and Squalius pyrenaicus are allopatrically distributed in southern Iberia and their evolutionary history may have been defined by Cenozoic tectonic and climatic events. We analyzed MT-CYB (510 specimens) and RAG1 (140 specimens) genes of both species to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships and to estimate divergence times and ancestral distribution ranges of the species and their populations. We also assessed their levels of genetic structure and diversity as well as the amount of gene flow between populations. To investigate recent paleogeographical and climatic factors in southern Iberia, we modeled changes-through-time in sea level from the LGM to the present. Phylogenetic, geographic and population structure analyses revealed two well-supported species (S. malacitanus and S. pyrenaicus) in southern Iberia and two subclades (Atlantic and Mediterranean) within S. malacitanus. The origin of S. malacitanus and the separation of its Atlantic and Mediterranean populations occurred during the Serravalian-Tortonian and Miocene-Pliocene periods, respectively. These divergence events occurred in the Middle Pliocene and Pleistocene in S. pyrenaicus. In both species, Atlantic basins possessed populations with higher genetic diversity than Mediterranean, which may be explained by the Janda Lagoon. The isolation of S. malacitanus was earlier and related to the rising of the Betic Mountains. Divergence of its Atlantic and Mediterranean populations was associated with the creation of the freshwater systems of southern Iberia close to the Gibraltar Strait. The presence of S. pyrenaicus in southern Iberia may be the result of recent colonization associated with river capture, as demonstrated our biogeographic reconstruction. PMID:26785110

  17. Pan-African tectonic evolution and glacial events registered in Neoproterozoic to Cambrian cratonic and foreland basins of West Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Deynoux, Max; Affaton, Pascal; Trompette, Roland; Villeneuve, Michel

    2006-12-01

    This paper attempts to describe the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian lithostratigraphic successions occurring on the West African craton and in the surrounding Pan-African fold belts, with special reference to glacial or glacially influenced deposits. It provides a brief synthesis of these terrains in order to propose inter-regional correlations, and to place the glacial events already described in the literature within the tectonic framework of this part of the world. Correlations are based on facies associations and isotopic databases, and supported by the occurrence of glacial deposits when these are ascribed to continental-scale glaciation. As expected, there is a diachronism of the main tectonic events around the craton when the mobile belts display a roughly similar overall facies trend reflecting the successive stages of the Pan-African orogenic cycle from rifting to collision. Contrary to most of the Neoproterozoic glacial strata elsewhere, which consist generally of marine diamictites preserved in marginal basins, West Africa displays the cratonic counterpart (tillites and associated terrestrial facies) deposited on exposed land surface by continental ice sheets. Lithostratigraphic correlations and a combination of relative dates on sedimentary rocks and on tectonic markers show that a major West African glaciation occurred between 630 and 610 Ma and can be correlated with the Marinoan ice age. This major climatic event is contemporaneous with the final stages of the Pan-African orogenic cycle. Under favourable climatic conditions (mid to high latitudes), the presence of surging reliefs at the rim of a wide cratonic platform may account for the development of the West African Marinoan ice sheet. The diachronism around the craton of collision-surrection events may also account for the occurrence of unrelated local mountain-type glaciation that could be mistaken with the craton-scale glaciation.

  18. The role that plate tectonics, inferred stress changes and stratigraphic unconformities have on the evolution of the West and Central African Rift System and the Atlantic continental margins

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fairhead, J. D.; Green, C. M.; Masterton, S. M.; Guiraud, R.

    2013-05-01

    The Muglad rift basin of Sudan, is a good example of polyphase rifting, with at least three major phases of basin development. Each phase has resulted in the generation of source rock, reservoir and seal geology with structural traps often closely linked to basement highs. In this paper we investigate on a regional scale the tectonic processes that have contributed to rift basin development. On a regional scale, the evolution of the Africa-wide Mesozoic rift system is intimately linked to relative movements of African sub-plates and to global plate tectonic processes and plate interactions. Changes in plate interactions are observed in the oceanic crust as azimuth changes of fracture zone geometries and by inference have caused significant modifications to both the orientation and magnitude of the motions of the African sub-plates. Such plate motion processes have controlled the polyphase development of the West and Central African Rift System. On the basinal scale, changes of sub-plate motions have resulted in changes in the stress field which have had a clear impact on the deformation and fault geometries of rift basins and on the resulting stratigraphy. The construction of the first unified stratigraphic chart for the West and Central African Rift System shows a close correlation in the timing of the major unconformities with the timing of changes in relative plate motion as observed in the changes of the azimuthal geometry of the oceanic fracture zones in the Central Atlantic. Since similarly timed unconformities exist along the continental margins of Africa and South America, we propose that the causative mechanism is change in relative plate motion which leads to an increase or decrease in the tension on the plate and thus controls the strength or effective elastic thickness, Te, of the crust/plate beneath the margins. This results in a focused change in isostatic response of the margin during short-period changes in relative plate motion; i.e. more tension will mean that loads are not compensated locally resulting in local uplift of the margin.

  19. Seismic evidence of tectonic control on the depth of water influx into incoming oceanic plates at subduction trenches

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lefeldt, M.; Ranero, C. R.; Grevemeyer, I.

    2012-05-01

    Water transported by slabs into the mantle at subduction zones plays key roles in tectonics, magmatism, fluid and volatiles fluxes, and most likely in the chemical evolution of the Earth's oceans and mantle. Yet, incorporation of water into oceanic plates before subduction is a poorly understood process. Several studies suggest that plates may acquire most water at subduction trenches because the ocean crust and uppermost mantle there are intensely faulted caused by bending and/or slab pull, and display anomalously low seismic velocities. The low velocities are interpreted to arise from a combination of fluid-filled fractures associated to normal faulting and mineral transformation by hydration. Mantle hydration by transformation of nominally dry peridotite to water-rich serpentinite could potentially create the largest fluid reservoir in slabs and is therefore the most relevant for the transport of water in the deep mantle. The depth of fracturing by normal-fault earthquakes is usually not well constrained, but could potentially create deep percolation paths for water that might hydrate up to tens of kilometers into the mantle, restrained only by serpentine stability. Yet, interpretation of deep intraplate mineral alteration remains speculative because active-source seismic experiments have sampled only the uppermost few kilometers of mantle, leaving the depth-extent of anomalous velocities and their relation to faulting unconstrained. Here we use a joint inversion of active-source seismic data, and both local and regional earthquakes to map the three dimensional distribution of anomalous velocities under a seismic network deployed at the trench seafloor. We found that anomalous velocities are restrained to the depth of normal-fault micro-earthquake activity recorded in the network, and are considerably shallower than either the rupture depth of teleseismic, normal-fault earthquakes, or the limit of serpentine stability. Extensional micro-earthquakes indicate that each fault in the region slips every 2-3 months which may facilitate regular water percolation. Deeper, teleseismic earthquakes are comparatively infrequent, and possibly do not cause significant fracturing that remains open long enough to promote alteration detectable with our seismic study. Our results show that the stability field of serpentine does not constrain the depth of potential mantle hydration.

  20. Epeirogeny and plate tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Menard, H. W.

    1975-01-01

    Vertical motions of the earth crust and their causes are considered in relation to epeirogenic phenomena. Factors discussed include: external loading and unloading; bending at subduction zones; internal density changes; and dynamic effects of mantle motion. The relationship between epeirogeny and drift is briefly reviewed along with oceanic epeirogeny.

  1. Re-Evaluation of Plate Tectonic Models for Formation of the Amerasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean: Geologic Constraints from the Russian Arctic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, E. L.; Toro, J.

    2006-12-01

    The most widely accepted plate tectonic model for the formation of the Amerasian Basin of the Arctic involves rifting and counter-clockwise rotation of the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka microplate (AACM) away from the Canadian Arctic margin to its present position. Accordingly, the Lomonosov Ridge (between the Eurasian and Amerasian Basins) represents a transform margin. The Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge (between the Makarov and Canada Basins) is thought to represent a post-rift structure, perhaps a hot-spot track (e.g. Lawver et al., 2002). Although this model satisfies many stratigraphic and geophysical constraints for the Alaskan and Canadian part of the reconstruction, it presents a growing set of problems with respect to geologic relations, sedimentary sources and timing of events in the Russian Arctic. A revised paleogeographic reconstruction of the Arctic places the Chukotka part of the Arctic Alaska plate closer to Russia but seeks to maintain a rotational opening for the Canada Basin. This paleogeographic reconstruction revives the hypothesis that the Makarov Basin formed by rifting orthogonal to the Lomonosov Ridge, and also suggests that the Mendeleev Ridge is a remnant of the rifted continental margin. This is supported by the morphology of normal faulted tilted block structures visible in updated bathymetric data, by recent reflection seismic profiles collected in the region (Coakley, 2006), and by new Russian refraction velocity data, coupled with the dredging and piston coring of sedimentary rocks from the Mendeleev ridge (Lebedeva-Ivanova et al., 2006). Our reconstruction also suggests that there may be a large component of strike-slip motion along the South Anyui suture (bounding the AACM to the south) which may have operated as a transform fault during opening of the Makarov Basin. Geologic relations suggest that if the Makarov Basin formed by rifting orthogonal to the Russian continental margin, its formation must have taken place after the cessation of collision-related shortening in the early Cretaceous (about 135 Ma), perhaps during a widespread episode of plutonism accompanied by NW-SE to E- W extension (from about 120 to 110 Ma), and was clearly over by the time the Okhotsk- Chukotka volcanic belt began to develop. Formation of the Makarov Basin and Amerasian Basin may have been localized by hot spot magmatism but was likely ultimately driven by Pacific-ward trench retreat in the Cretaceous.

  2. Tectonic plate coupling and elastic thickness derived from the inversion of a steady state viscoelastic model using geodetic data: Application to southern North Island, New Zealand

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cohen, Steven C.; Darby, Desmond J.

    2003-03-01

    A steady state viscoelastic model of deformation at an oblique convergence zone is used to analyze crustal velocities deduced from Global Positioning System (GPS) observations in southern North Island, New Zealand. The model is physically more reasonable than elastic dislocation theory because the tectonic plates have finite elastic thicknesses. In an inversion that makes use of Green's functions derived from finite element calculations, we solve for depth-dependent fault backslip rates. The associated chi-squared goodness of fit parameter depends on the values of the elastic thicknesses of the overriding Australian and subducting Pacific Plates. These thicknesses are systematically varied in order to find the chi-squared minimum. We find that: (1) the plates have coupling coefficient between 0.8 and 1.0 to a depth of about 22 km; (2) elastic dislocation theory appears to adequately fit the observations because the effects of viscoelastic flow are small; (3) viscoelastic results depend on the contrast between the elastic moduli of the plates, (4) the trench normal, rather than the trench parallel component of motion is more diagnostic for choosing between models with different parameters; (5) for the favored model (one with a weak continental crust), the estimated value of the Pacific Plate thickness is 40-60 km. Although the estimates of the plate thickness are not tightly constrained, those deduced from geodetic data tend to be larger than those deduced from geologic data, consistent with the idea that thickness estimates depend on the time scale of the loading process.

  3. Plate Margin Deformation and Active Tectonics Along the Northern Edge of the Yakutat Terrane in the Saint Elias Orogen, Alaska and Yukon, Canada

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Bruhn, Ronald L.; Sauber, Jeanne; Cotton, Michele M.; Pavlis, Terry L.; Burgess, Evan; Ruppert, Natalia; Forster, Richard R.

    2012-01-01

    The northwest directed motion of the Pacific plate is accompanied by migration and collision of the Yakutat terrane into the cusp of southern Alaska. The nature and magnitude of accretion and translation on upper crustal faults and folds is poorly constrained, however, due to pervasive glaciation. In this study we used high-resolution topography, geodetic imaging, seismic, and geologic data to advance understanding of the transition from strike-slip motion on the Fairweather fault to plate margin deformation on the Bagley fault, which cuts through the upper plate of the collisional suture above the subduction megathrust. The Fairweather fault terminates by oblique-extensional splay faulting within a structural syntaxis, allowing rapid tectonic upwelling of rocks driven by thrust faulting and crustal contraction. Plate motion is partly transferred from the Fairweather to the Bagley fault, which extends 125 km farther west as a dextral shear zone that is partly reactivated by reverse faulting. The Bagley fault dips steeply through the upper plate to intersect the subduction megathrust at depth, forming a narrow fault-bounded crustal sliver in the obliquely convergent plate margin. Since . 20 Ma the Bagley fault has accommodated more than 50 km of dextral shearing and several kilometers of reverse motion along its southern flank during terrane accretion. The fault is considered capable of generating earthquakes because it is linked to faults that generated large historic earthquakes, suitably oriented for reactivation in the contemporary stress field, and locally marked by seismicity. The fault may generate earthquakes of Mw <= 7.5.

  4. A Seismo-Tectonic Signal From Offshore Sedimentation: The 2010 Haiti Earthquake and Prior Events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McHugh, C. M.; Seeber, L.; Cormier, M.; Hornbach, M.; Momplaisir, R.; Waldhauser, F.; Sorlien, C. C.; Steckler, M. S.; Gulick, S.

    2011-12-01

    The Mw 7.0 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the deadliest in history. It involved multiple faults along or near the main Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault (EPGF). This left-lateral transform is a branch of the northern Caribbean plate boundary across southern Hispaniola. The main rupture was strike-slip but almost all aftershocks had thrust mechanisms, and surface deformation may have been concentrated on anticline forelimbs driven by blind thrust faults. Earthquake generated mass-wasting and turbidity currents were sampled from the Canal du Sud slope (~1000 m water depth), a basin at 1500 m, and the deepest part of the strait at 1700 m. The turbidites were strongly correlated by 234Th with a half-life of 24 days. In the deepest area, a turbidite-homogenite unit (T-H) extends over 50 km2 and is composed of basal sand beds 5 cm thick and 50 cm of mud above. The sedimentary structures in the sand were linked to oscillatory motions by internal seiches. The T-H units recovered from the slope and deep basin are similar in composition. The Leogane Delta, upslope from the sampling sites, is rich in this lithology that has been linked to oceanic basement rocks exposed on the southern Haitian peninsula. In contrast, the T-H unit recovered from the basin at 1500 m is perched behind a thrust anticline and has a greater concentration of Ca derived from Ca rich sources such as the Tapion Ridge on the southern peninsula. The Tapion Ridge is a compressional structure associated with a restraining bend along the EPGF. The T-H unit beneath the 2010 deposit has a 14C age of 2400 cal yrs BP, and interpreted as an earthquake triggered deposit. It is nearly identical in thickness, composition and fine structures to the 2010 T-H. Notably absent from the record are younger turbidites that could have been linked to the historic 1770 AD and other similar earthquakes expected from GPS rates across the EPGF. Two hypotheses are being considered for this long gap in T-H sedimentation. One proposes that during relative high stands of sea level fringing reefs are trapping sediment on the shelf and that a critical accumulation is needed to generate failure. Many large local earthquakes could have occurred before reaching this critical thickness. Low sedimentation rates (6 cm/1000 yrs) support this possibility. Our preferred hypothesis, alternatively, links T-Hs to earthquakes with a large thrust component such as the 2010 event in order to generate failure. This latter hypothesis accounts for some earthquakes producing no turbidites while others, such as the 2010 event, do. It also accounts for the fracturing sampled along 8 km of the perched basin. We propose that thrust earthquakes along the Tapion Ridge segment of the EPGF reoccur at ~2000-year intervals and this sedimentary signal is preserved in Canal du Sud.

  5. A harbinger of plate tectonics: a commentary on Bullard, Everett and Smith (1965) ‘The fit of the continents around the Atlantic’

    PubMed Central

    Dewey, John F.

    2015-01-01

    In the 1960s, geology was transformed by the paradigm of plate tectonics. The 1965 paper of Bullard, Everett and Smith was a linking transition between the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics. They showed, conclusively, that the continents around the Atlantic were once contiguous and that the Atlantic Ocean had grown at rates of a few centimetres per year since the Early Jurassic, about 160 Ma. They achieved fits of the continental margins at the 500 fathom line (approx. 900 m), not the shorelines, by minimizing misfits between conjugate margins and finding axes, poles and angles of rotation, using Euler's theorem, that defined the unique single finite difference rotation that carried congruent continents from contiguity to their present positions, recognizing that the real motion may have been more complex around a number of finite motion poles. Critically, they were concerned only with kinematic reality and were not restricted by considerations of the mechanism by which continents split and oceans grow. Many of the defining features of plate tectonics were explicit or implicit in their reconstructions, such as the torsional rigidity of continents, Euler's theorem, closure of the Tethyan ocean(s), major continental margin shear zones, the rapid rotation of small continental blocks (Iberia) around nearby poles, the consequent opening of small wedge-shaped oceans (Bay of Biscay), and misfit overlaps (deltas and volcanic piles) and underlaps (stretched continental edges). This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. PMID:25750142

  6. A harbinger of plate tectonics: a commentary on Bullard, Everett and Smith (1965) 'The fit of the continents around the Atlantic'.

    PubMed

    Dewey, John F

    2015-04-13

    In the 1960s, geology was transformed by the paradigm of plate tectonics. The 1965 paper of Bullard, Everett and Smith was a linking transition between the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics. They showed, conclusively, that the continents around the Atlantic were once contiguous and that the Atlantic Ocean had grown at rates of a few centimetres per year since the Early Jurassic, about 160 Ma. They achieved fits of the continental margins at the 500 fathom line (approx. 900 m), not the shorelines, by minimizing misfits between conjugate margins and finding axes, poles and angles of rotation, using Euler's theorem, that defined the unique single finite difference rotation that carried congruent continents from contiguity to their present positions, recognizing that the real motion may have been more complex around a number of finite motion poles. Critically, they were concerned only with kinematic reality and were not restricted by considerations of the mechanism by which continents split and oceans grow. Many of the defining features of plate tectonics were explicit or implicit in their reconstructions, such as the torsional rigidity of continents, Euler's theorem, closure of the Tethyan ocean(s), major continental margin shear zones, the rapid rotation of small continental blocks (Iberia) around nearby poles, the consequent opening of small wedge-shaped oceans (Bay of Biscay), and misfit overlaps (deltas and volcanic piles) and underlaps (stretched continental edges). This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. PMID:25750142

  7. The importance of mineral physics and a free surface in large-scale numerical models of mantle convection and plate tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tackley, Paul; Nakagawa, Takashi; Crameri, Fabio; Connolly, James; Deschamps, Frdric; Kaus, Boris; Gerya, Taras

    2010-05-01

    Here, our recent progress in understanding the large-scale dynamics of the mantle convection - plate tectonics system is summarised, with particular focus on the influence of realistic mineral physics and a free surface. High pressure and temperature experiments and calculations of the properties of mantle minerals show that many different mineral phases exist as a function of pressure, temperature and composition [e.g. Irifune and Ringwood, EPSL 1987], and that these have a first-order influence on density (which has a large effect on the dynamics) and elastic moduli (which influence seismic velocity). Numerical models of global thermo-chemical mantle convection have typically used a simple approximation such as the extended Boussinesq approximation to treat these complex variations in material properties. Instead, we calculate composition-dependent mineral assemblages and their physical properties using the code Perple_X, which minimizes free energy for a given combination of oxides as a function of temperature and pressure [Connolly, EPSL 2005], and use this in a numerical model of thermo-chemical mantle convection in a three-dimensional spherical shell, to calculate three-dimensionally-varying physical proporties. In this presentation we compare the results obtained with this new, self-consistently-calculated treatment with results using our old, approximate treatment, focusing particularly on thermo-chemical-phase structures and seismic anomalies in the transition zone and core-mantle boundary (CMB) region [Nakagawa and Tackley, G3 2009], which are strongly influenced by the coupling between compositional variations and phase transitions. The numerical models treat the evolution of a planet over billions of years, including self-consistent plate tectonics arising from plastic yielding, melting-induced differentiation, and a parameterised model of core evolution based on heat extracted by mantle convection. Self-consistent plate tectonics-like behaviour may be introduced into global mantle convection models by using visco-plastic rheology with a constant or depth (pressure)-dependent yield stress [Moresi et al., GJI 1998; van Heck and Tackley, GRL 2008]. Yet, these models fail to create Earth-like plate tectonics, because the "subduction" is two-sided and approximately symmetric, whereas terrestrial subduction is one-sided. Previous gobal models assumed a free-slip upper boundary, in which the shear stress is zero but the vertical position of the boundary is fixed. In contrast, subduction zones display some of the largest topographic variations on Earth. We thus study the effect of a free surface on the mode of subduction in 2D and 3D global, fully dynamic mantle convection models with self-consistent plate tectonics. We observe that indeed, a free surface leads to single-sided subduction, whereas identical models with a free slip upper boundary develop double-sided subduction. A free surface is thus an essential ingredient to obtain realistic subduction behaviour in numerical models, probably because it allows the slab to bend in a natural manner. Another ingredient for stable single-sided subduction is a low strength interface between the plates achieved by the presence of metamorphic fluids in the subduction channel. Such a lubrication layer consisting of weak hydrated sediments accommodates stable one-sided subduction by strain localization, while the absence of a weak shear zone leads to mechanically two-sided subduction since in this case the plastic strength of the entire plates needs to be sufficiently low to allow for subduction [Gerya et al, Geology 2008]. In conclusion, a free surface is the key ingredient to obtain thermally one-sided subduction, while additionally including a weak crust is essential to obtain subduction that is both mechanically and thermally one-sided.

  8. 3-D simulation of temporal change in tectonic deformation pattern and evolution of the plate boundary around the Kanto Region of Japan due to the collision of the Izu-Bonin Arc

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hashima, A.; Sato, T.; Ito, T.; Miyauchi, T.; Furuya, H.; Tsumura, N.; Kameo, K.; Yamamoto, S.

    2010-12-01

    The Kanto region of Japan is in a highly complex tectonic setting with four plates interacting with each other: beneath Kanto, situated on the Eurasian and North American plates, the Philippine sea plate subducts and the Pacific plate further descends beneath the North American and Philippine sea plates, forming the unique trench-trench-trench triple junction on the earth. In addition, the Izu-Bonin (Ogasawara) arc on the Philippine sea plate is colliding with the Japan islands, which is considered to be a significant effect on the tectonics of Kanto. To reveal the present crustal structure and the present internal stress fields in such a complex tectonic setting, it is essential to comprehend them through the long-term tectonic evolution process. In this study, we estimate the temporal change in tectonic deformation pattern along with the geometry of the plate boundary around Kanto by numerical simulation with a kinematic plate subduction model based on the elastic dislocation theory. This model is based on the idea that mechanical interaction between plates can rationally be represented by the increase of the displacement discontinuity (dislocation) across plate interfaces. Given the 3-D geometry of plate interfaces, the distribution of slip rate vectors for simple plate subduction can be obtained directly from relative plate velocities. In collision zones, the plate with arc crust cannot easily descend because of its buoyancy. This can be represented by giving slip-rate deficit. When crustal deformation occurs, it also causes change in geometry of the plate boundary itself. This geometry change sensitively affects mechanical interaction at the plate boundary. Then the renewed plate-to-plete interaction alters crustal deformation rates. This feedback system has a large effect on collision zones. Indeed, the plate boundary around the Izu peninsula, the northernmost end of the Izu-Bonin arc, intends landward as large as 100 km. Iterating this effect sequentially backward in time, we numerically simulated the evolution of the deformation rates in Kanto. The result shows uplifts in the Akaishi and the Kanto ranges ahead of the Izu-Bonin arc and subsidence in the center of the Kanto plane. This result is consistent with the topography, the free-air gravity anomaly and the height of paleo-shorelines in this area.

  9. Application of laser ranging and VLBI data to a study of plate tectonic driving forces. [finite element method

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Solomon, S. C.

    1980-01-01

    The measurability of changes in plate driving or resistive forces associated with plate boundary earthquakes by laser rangefinding or VLBI is considered with emphasis on those aspects of plate forces that can be characterized by such measurements. Topics covered include: (1) analytic solutions for two dimensional stress diffusion in a plate following earthquake faulting on a finite fault; (2) two dimensional finite-element solutions for the global state of stress at the Earth's surface for possible plate driving forces; and (3) finite-element solutions for three dimensional stress diffusion in a viscoelastic Earth following earthquake faulting.

  10. Gridino melange zone of the Belomorian eclogite province: Succession of tectonic events and structural position of mafic dyke swarms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Babarina, I. I.; Sibelev, O. S.; Stepanova, A. V.

    2014-07-01

    Based on relationships between Paleoproterozoic mafic dykes, lithotectonic complexes, and tectonic structures of the Gridino Zone in the Belomorian eclogite province of the Fennoscandian Shield, deformations have been divided into groups differing in age and the succession of tectonic events has been reconstructed. The formation of Neoarchean eclogite-bearing melange was related to disintegration of large eclogite sheets in the course of near-horizontal ductile flow accompanied by syntectonic granitoid magmatism, multiple migmatization, and granulite-to amphibolite-facies metamorphism. The exotic blocks, including eclogites, were incorporated into TTG gneisses as sheets and lenses up to a few hundreds of meters in thickness and oriented conformably with gneissic banding. As a result of ductile flow, the lithotectonic complexes were transported at the level of discrete brittle-ductile deformations expressed as strike-slip faults and associated folds. Under conditions of a relatively rigid medium, individual structural elements underwent rotation approximately through 90° in plan view. Under the extension regime in the Early Paleoproterozoic, several swarms of mafic dykes were injected into the already cold framework rocks, as is evident from dyke morphology. The dykes crosscut all predated structures, included turned blocks, and are therefore important reference points for subdivision of Neoarchean and Paleoproterozoic processes. The Svecofennian postdyke tectonic activity was accompanied by local shearing and boudinage of metabasic rocks, development of quartz and pegmatite veins along tension cracks, disharmonic folding, and discrete retrograde metamorphism up to amphibolite-facies conditions. The postdyke deformations did not exert a substantial effect on the previously formed regional structure.

  11. On the predictability of volcano-tectonic events by low frequency seismic noise analysis at Teide-Pico Viejo volcanic complex, Canary Islands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Trraga, M.; Carniel, R.; Ortiz, R.; Marrero, J. M.; Garca, A.

    2006-05-01

    The island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), is showing possible signs of reawakening after its last basaltic strombolian eruption, dated 1909 at Chinyero. The main concern relates to the central active volcanic complex Teide - Pico Viejo, which poses serious hazards to the properties and population of the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), and which has erupted several times during the last 5000 years, including a subplinian phonolitic eruption (Montaa Blanca) about 2000 years ago. In this paper we show the presence of low frequency seismic noise which possibly includes tremor of volcanic origin and we investigate the feasibility of using it to forecast, via the material failure forecast method, the time of occurrence of discrete events that could be called Volcano-Tectonic or simply Tectonic (i.e. non volcanic) on the basis of their relationship to volcanic activity. In order to avoid subjectivity in the forecast procedure, an automatic program has been developed to generate forecasts, validated by Bayes theorem. A parameter called "forecast gain" measures (and for the first time quantitatively) what is gained in probabilistic terms by applying the (automatic) failure forecast method. The clear correlation between the obtained forecasts and the occurrence of (Volcano-)Tectonic seismic events - a clear indication of a relationship between the continuous seismic noise and the discrete seismic events - is the explanation for the high value of this "forecast gain" in both 2004 and 2005 and an indication that the events are Volcano-Tectonic rather than purely Tectonic.

  12. Thermochronology and Tectonics of the Leeward Antilles: evolution of the Southern Caribbean Plate Boundary Zone and accretion of the Bonaire Block

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2010-05-01

    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 zircon 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 >80C 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 northwards escape of the Maracaibo Block.

  13. Technical investigation of a pyrophoric event involving corrosion products from HEU ZPPR fuel plates

    SciTech Connect

    Totemeier, T. C.

    2000-02-02

    A pyrophoric event recently occurred which involved corrosion products collected from highly-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel plates used in the Zero Power Physics Reactor (ZPPR). This paper summarizes the event and its background, and presents the results of an investigation into its source and mechanism. The investigation focused on characterization of corrosion product samples similar to those involved in the event using thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA). Burning curve TGA tests were performed to measure the ignition temperature and hydride fractions of corrosion products in several different conditions to assess the effects of passivation treatment and long-term storage on chemical reactivity. The hydride fraction and ignition temperature of the corrosion products were found to be strongly dependent on the corrosion extent of the source metal. The results indicate that the energy source for the event was a considerable quantity of uranium hydride present in the corrosion products, but the specific ignition mechanism could not be identified.

  14. In-phase dynamics of the exhalation sequence in Popocatpetl volcano and slow-slip events in Cocos-North American plate boundary

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alvarez-Ramirez, Jose; Sosa, Eliceo; Hernandez-Martinez, Eliseo

    2011-02-01

    It has long been considered that the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB) is related to subduction along the Middle America trench. Within this view, it is expected that the tectonic dynamics of the Cocos plate can be reflected, to some extent, in the Popocatpetl's volcanic activity This work uses detrended fluctuation analysis, a method borrowed from statistical mechanics, to quantify the fractality and autocorrelations in the exhalation sequence of the Popocatepetl. It is found that the autocorrelations exhibit cyclic, non-periodic, dynamics with dominant periods of the order of 0.85 to 1.25 years. Interestingly, it is shown that the occurrence of slow-slip events in Southern (Guerrero and Oaxaca) Mexico coincides with peaks of the autocorrelation cycle of the exhalation sequence. The result suggests the use of the volcano exhalation sequence as a proxy of aseismic events in the Cocos-North American plate boundary. That is, by monitoring the autocorrelation dynamics of the exhalation sequence in the Popocatepetl, one could be able to suspect the occurrence of a slow-slip event in Southern Mexico.

  15. Tectonic versus eustatic control on Neogene sedimentation in the Cibao basin of the Dominican Republic: Tectonic dominance near an active plate boundary

    SciTech Connect

    Erikson, J.P. )

    1991-03-01

    Continuous Neogene subsidence, transgression, and brief periods of accelerated subsidence are indicated by the Yaque Group sediments of the Cibao basin of northern Dominican Republic, in which the generally fining-upward sediments are punctuated by two, thick, conglomeratic sequences. Lithologic and paleontologic evidence support continuous subsidence and a tectonic control on sedimentation and is in conflict with an interpretation of one or both of the conglomeratic sequences as being due to a rapid regressive-transgressive cycle and a correlation with a second-order fluctuation (supercycle) on a Vail-type sea-level curve. Subsidence generally outpaced sedimentation, such that water depths almost continuously increased during deposition of all but the uppermost Yaque Group (when the basin shallowed prior to the subaerial exposure), as interpreted from detailed paleontological analyses. The depositional history of the entire {approximately}1 km exposed section and {approximately}5 km subsurface section of the Yaque Group is best explained by a single, continuous, east to west, middle Miocene to earliest Pliocene transgression due to asymmetric basin subsidence. Deposition of the igneous clast-rich conglomerates was probably caused by accelerated basement subsidence at the northern edge of the basin, which oversteepened the depositional slope, led to accelerated transgression of the northern flank of the Central Cordillera, and produced brief pulses of coarse, partially Cordilleran-derived conglomerates. Varying subsidence of the Cibao basin is correlated with episodic uplift and sedimentation in the Cordillera Septentrional.

  16. Closure of the Africa-Eurasia-North America plate motion circuit and tectonics of the Gloria fault

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Argus, Donald F.; Gordon, Richard G.; Demets, Charles; Stein, Seth

    1989-01-01

    The current motions of the African, Eurasian, and North American plates are examined. The problems addressed include whether there is resolvable motion of a Spitsbergen microplate, the direction of motion between the African and North American plates, whether the Gloria fault is an active transform fault, and the implications of plate circuit closures for rates of intraplate deformation. Marine geophysical data and magnetic profiles are used to construct a model which predicts about 4 mm/yr slip across the Azores-Gibraltar Ridge, and west-northwest convergence near Gibraltar. The analyzed data are consistent with a rigid plate model with the Gloria fault being a transform fault.

  17. Optimization of high count rate event counting detector with Microchannel Plates and quad Timepix readout

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tremsin, A. S.; Vallerga, J. V.; McPhate, J. B.; Siegmund, O. H. W.

    2015-07-01

    Many high resolution event counting devices process one event at a time and cannot register simultaneous events. In this article a frame-based readout event counting detector consisting of a pair of Microchannel Plates and a quad Timepix readout is described. More than 104 simultaneous events can be detected with a spatial resolution of ~55 ?m, while >103 simultaneous events can be detected with <10 ?m spatial resolution when event centroiding is implemented. The fast readout electronics is capable of processing >1200 frames/sec, while the global count rate of the detector can exceed 5108 particles/s when no timing information on every particle is required. For the first generation Timepix readout, the timing resolution is limited by the Timepix clock to 10-20 ns. Optimization of the MCP gain, rear field voltage and Timepix threshold levels are crucial for the device performance and that is the main subject of this article. These devices can be very attractive for applications where the photon/electron/ion/neutron counting with high spatial and temporal resolution is required, such as energy resolved neutron imaging, Time of Flight experiments in lidar applications, experiments on photoelectron spectroscopy and many others.

  18. A delicate balance of magmatic-tectonic interaction at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i, revealed from slow slip events

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Montgomery-Brown, Emily; Poland, Michael; Miklius, Asta

    2015-01-01

    Eleven slow slip events (SSEs) have occurred on the southern flank of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai’i, since 1997 through 2014. We analyze this series of SSEs in the context of Kilauea’s magma system to assess whether or not there are interactions between these tectonic events and eruptive/intrusive activity. Over time, SSEs have increased in magnitude and become more regular, with interevent times averaging 2.44 ± 0.15 years since 2003. Two notable SSEs that impacted both the flank and the magmatic system occurred in 2007, when an intrusion and small eruption on the East Rift Zone were part of a feedback with a SSE and 2012, when slow slip induced 2.5 cm of East Rift Zone opening (but without any change in eruptive activity). A summit inflation event and surge in East Rift Zone lava effusion was associated with a SSE in 2005, but the inferred triggering relation is not clear due to a poorly constrained slip onset time. Our results demonstrate that slow slip along Kilauea’s décollement has the potential to trigger and be triggered by activity within the volcano’s magma system. Since only three of the SSEs have been associated with changes in magmatic activity within the summit and rift zones, both the décollement and magma system must be close to failure for triggering to occur.

  19. Sequential Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic events in Grant range and Railroad Valley, Nye County, Nevada

    SciTech Connect

    Flanigan, D.M.H.

    1989-03-01

    A series of palinspastic geologic cross sections were constructed for the Grant Range-Railroad Valley (GR-RRV) area. This palinspastic reconstruction differs from previously published interpretations in two major ways. First, new granite age dates and a chronological framework deduced by Fryxell in 1984 in the central and southern Grant Range were applied, where possible, to the northern Grant Range. Second, recent drilling was correlated to outcrop interpretations. Results of this reconstruction suggest that significant tectonism affected the GR-RRV area earlier than previously believed. Mesozoic compression produced east-vergent folding in the GR-RRV area, followed by Late Cretaceous intrusion. Local, possibly blind thrusting may have been associated with the intrusion. Above the granite dome, shallow, brittle, listric faulting and deeper low-angle attenuation faulting accommodated intrusion. After intrusion, relative quiescence prevailed during the deposition of the Sheep Pass Formation and the lower Garrett Ranch Group ignimbrite. Uplift in the middle and late Oligocene produced pervasive listric, normal, east-dipping faulting that may in part be represented by apparent growth faults within volcanics. Subsequent west-dipping listric faulting was in part gravity driven. High-angle Miocene normal faulting initiated the present structure. All commercial oil fields in Railroad Valley are producing from Miocene and younger structures. However, an understanding of older structures will allow more accurate prediction of reservoirs within a particular, prospective, younger structure.

  20. Misconceptions and Conceptual Changes Concerning Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics among Portuguese Students Aged 16-17.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Marques, Luis; Thompson, David

    1997-01-01

    This study investigates student misconceptions in the areas of continent, ocean, permanence of ocean basins, continental drift, Earth's magnetic field, and plates and plate motions. A teaching-learning model was designed based on a constructivist approach. Results show that students held a substantial number of misconceptions. (Author/DKM)

  1. A kinematic model for Afar Depression lithospheric thinning and its implications for hominid evolution: an exercise in plate-tectonic paleoanthropology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Redfield, T.; Often, M.; Wheeler, W. H.

    2002-12-01

    We present a detailed Nubia-Arabia-Somalia (NU-AR-SOM) kinematic reconstruction based on magnetic sea floor isochrons in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea and piercing points along the Red Sea margins. The reconstruction is combined with digital topographic and depth-to-Moho data to constrain in 4D the Late Oligocene to present-day evolution of the Afar supra-Moho crust. Opposite end-member models for crustal evolution are described. We conclude that less than 20% of the present-day Afar supra-Moho crust was constructed by magmatic processes such as diking and underplating. The reconstructions indicate that the greater percentage of crustal thinning (extension) occurred before 6.2 Ma. We model the thinning of the effective elastic lithosphere that accompanied extension, and show that the regional-scale topographic development of the Afar depression was virtually complete by Mid Pliocene time. The plate-tectonic model has paleoanthropological implications. Prior to 6.2 Ma the proximal positions of NU-SOM, AR, and the Danakil block suggest subaerial conditions prevailed between Yemen and Ethiopia. Uninhibited Africa-Eurasia faunal exchange through Afar and Arabia (corroborated by isotopic and paleontologic data) was tectonically permissible until the time of the earliest hominids. Continued stretching caused the Afar land bridge(s) to disappear during Early to Mid Pliocene time. Primitive hominid populations living within the Afar Depression became isolated from AR sometime before ~3.2 Ma. With the plateau becoming less habitable due to long-term Late Neogene cooling, hominids that remained in the Afar Depression were required to adapt to a smaller range that was effectively bounded by the already well-developed NU-SOM escarpments and the newly opened Straits of Bab el Mandeb. The combination of high quality habitat,topographic confinement, and a gradual (tectonic) reduction in range, exacerbated by potentially severe fluctuations in local climate (well documented by land and marine paleoclimate proxies) appears to have been unique to Afar in Mid Pliocene Africa, and may have caused hominids living in the Depression to undergo physical and cultural evolution more rapidly and successfully than hominids inhabiting equally productive but less confined ranges elsewhere. We suggest that plate-tectonic induced isolation caused the Afar Depression to become the cauldron within which genus Homo arose to prominence. If our interpretation is correct, continental drift played a major role in hominid-to-human evolution.

  2. Forced relative displacements of the core and mantle as the basic mechanism of secular changes of the Earth shape and lithosphere plates tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barkin, Yury

    2010-05-01

    The summary. In the work planetary changes of a figure of the Earth and geoid in present epoch are discussed. Contrast and asymmetric geodetic changes of northern and southern hemispheres are revealed. The phenomenon of lengthening of latitude circles of a southern hemisphere and shortening of lengths of latitude circles of northern hemisphere, the phenomenon of expansion of a southern hemisphere and, accordingly, compression of northern hemisphere in relation to the center of mass of the Earth have been predicted. The reasons of the planetary tendency of displacement (drift) of plates in northern direction are studied. The geodynamic model is developed, on which the basic moving force in tectonics of plates is a gravitational influence of a moveable core of the Earth on all layers of the mantle, and also on blocks of the crust and lithosphere plates. In a base of all tectonic and geological reorganizations the mechanism of the forced relative oscillations and swings of the core and the mantle of the Earth in various time scales, including geological timescale lays. 1 Mechanism of formation and changes of the pear-shaped form of the Earth. According to developed geodynamic model a pear-shaped form of planets is not their given property for all time (as believed before scientists), and is the dynamic response to the slow forced relative displacements of the core and mantle [1]. Than more a relative displacement of the core and mantle (eccentricity of the core in some geology epoch), is especially clearly expressed pear-shaped form. The planet Mars possesses a big pear-shaped form and by our estimations the core of this planet is displaced in northern direction (to latitude in approximately 60° N) on 20-25 km [2]. An eccentricity of the Earth core is less (estimations give displacement about 3-4 km in direction to Brazil [3]) and it pear-shaped form is much less. 2 The phenomenon of asymmetric lengthening of latitude circles of southern and northern hemispheres of the Earth. The phenomenon of inversion lengthenings of latitude circles of the Earth has been established theoretically. Subsequently the phenomenon of contrast and asymmetric lengthening of latitude circles in northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth has been confirmed by data of GPS observations [4]. A dependence of velocity of increase in lengths of latitude circles from latitude has been revealed. 3 A phenomenon of asymmetric change of mean radiuses of northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth. It is necessary to note, that changes of a figure of the Earth in geocentric system of coordinates (with the origin in the center of mass) are represented with set of two processes. First of them is a dynamic and represents the response to deformations of elastic layers of the mantle and crust. The second represents a geometrical effect and is caused by a displacement of the center of mass with respect to which the northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth are determined. For the explanatory we shall specify, for example, that even if the surface of the Earth would not vary, and its center of mass drifts to the north with a velocity in 5.54 mm/yr [5], satellite observations (GPS) would reveal planetary inversion changes of the Earth surface w.r.t. a geocentric system of coordinates. Namely in northern hemisphere - lowering of a surface with a mean velocity -2.77 mm/year, and in a southern hemisphere on the contrary - rise of a surface with a mean velocity of 2.77 mm/years. If the specified effect to subtract from the given satellite observations of change of heights of GPS stations as a result we shall obtain directly a deformation changes of a surface. In the given work the preliminary and simplified estimations of mean velocities of deformation of hemispheres of the Earth in present epoch are given. The first determination of velocities of change of mean radiuses of northern and southern hemispheres, executed on the base of GPS observations, gives a value of 0.1 mm/yr and 1.37 mm/yr, accordingly [6]. Hence, to these values there correspond deformation changes of mean radiuses of northern and southern hemispheres with velocity: +2.9 mm/yr and -1.4 mm/yr, accordingly. 4 Phenomenon of displacement of continental weights of a bark to the north. On the basis of geodynamic model of the forced oscillations of core-mantle system of the Earth the observable secular variations of a gravity on a lot of base gravimetric stations (Ny-Alesund, Syowa, Churchill, Medicina etc. have been obtained an explanation [7]. They are caused by drift of the center of mass of the Earth and by deformations of its surface. Besides it has been shown, that at displacement of the core to the north not only a gravity (a radial component of force of a gravitational attraction of the Earth) varies, but also its tangential northern component also. Both in southern and in northern hemispheres of the Earth (at polar drift of the core to the north with the velocity specified above) in present epoch the northern component of gravitational force of the Earth attraction increases with a velocity about 0.5-1.0 ?Gal/yr. The action of the specified latitudinal component of force on a long (geological) intervals of time in planetary scale forces superficial masses and in general masses of the crust and lithosphere (their blocks and plates) to be displaced to the north. It finds clear confirmations in observable tectonic reorganizations of geological structures of the crust and a bottom of ocean [8]. Really, in their congestion the continents or more precisely to tell their centers (or their centers of mass) during a modern geological epoch find out the tendency of the directed moving to the northern hemisphere [9]. The mechanical essence of tectonics of lithosphere plates is connected with this phenomenon - by one of the basic forces moving plates is a gravitational attraction of superfluous mass of moveable core. Owing to this influence a redistribution and displacements of plates, first of all continental plates, between hemispheres in a geological time scale is carried out. Thus oscillations and displacements of the core control and organize a plume tectonics activity, and also a spreading activity without which motions of plates to the north would be impossible. This mechanism allows to give a logic explanation to observable tectonic processes and polar changes of geodynamic states of supercontinents observable at formation during geoevolution [10]. According to table 3 of the work [9] the horizontal latitudinal components (in a direction the south-north) of linear velocities of conditional epicentres of lithosphere plates (they correspond to calculated modelling positions of their centers of mass) are equal: 3.47 mm/yr for the Euroasian plate; 2.54 mm/yr for the African plate; 50.3 mm/yr for the Pacific plate; 83.8 mm/yr for the Australian plate; 48.3 mm/yr for the Indian plate; 26.8 mm/yr for the Arabian plate; 35.3 mm/yr for Philippine plate; 54.6 mm/yr for a plate the Cocos; 11.1 mm/yr for Juan de Fuka. For all specified 9 plates mentioned velocities speeds are positive and significant on values. Negative latitudional components of velocities have the American continents: -12.0 mm/yr (the Northern-American plate) and -9.8 mm/yr (the Southern-American plate). Also negative latitudinal components have velocities of the centers of mass of the small plates: -0.64 mm/yr (the Antarctic plate) and -1.2 mm/yr (Nasca). In another words the clearly expressed tendency of displacement of epicentres of the centers of mass of plates to the north exists in reality [9]. The specified displacements are observed with respect to geocentric reference system of coordinates HS2-NUVEL1 connected with hotspots. The obtained conclusion has a modelling character and does not consider some changes in positions of the conditional centers of plates because of the phenomena of spreading and subduction (i.e. here the conditional centers fastened to plates are considered). 5 Phenomenon of global displacement of system of GPS stations to the north. This phenomenon is easily established on known data about velocities of displacements of GPS stations of satellite observations in system of coordinates ITRF 2005 (www.iers.org). The basic stations are displaced together with plates to the north. One from reason of this phenomenon can be the secular drift of the center of mass of the Earth to the North. This phenomenon has exclusively-great value for understanding of the mechanism of tectonics of plates and fundamental mechanisms spreading and subduction. The specified tendency of displacements of layers of a crust and lithosphere (their blocks) to the north is direct consequence of gravitational influence on them of the core of the Earth drifting to the north. To tendency of displacement of masses of oceanic plates continents interfere and the spaces borrowed already by them in northern hemisphere. As a result for a discharge of intensity they are forced to organize subduction zones and 'to dive' under a continental lithosphere. On the other hand the material for construction of moving oceanic lithosphere plates acts along rifting zones, mainly located in a southern hemisphere. Therefore the geodynamical fact, that subduction zones and rifting zones are situated mainly in opposite hemispheres of the Earth is confirmed [1]. We reveal correlations of radial deformations of a surface on concrete gravimetric stations with the form of geoid (in dependence from latitude). References [1] Barkin Yu.V. (2002) An explanation of endogenous activity of planets and satellites and its cyclisity. Isvestia sekcii nauk o Zemle Rossiiskoi akademii ectestvennykh nauk. Vyp. 9, M., VINITI, pp. 45-97. In Russian. [2] Barkin Yu.V. (2009) About possible polar drifts of centers of mass of the Earth and Mars. Abstract Book (CD) of European Planetary Science Congress (Potsdam, Germany, 13 - 18 September 2009), Vol.4, EPSC 2009-118. [3] Barkin Yu.V. (2000) Eccentricity of the Earth core. XXV General Assembly of EGS (Nice, France 25-29 April 2000) News Letter European Geophysical Society, N74, March 2000. Scientific Programme, p. 65. [4] Barkin Yu.V. and Jin Shuanggen (2006) Kinematics and dynamics of the Earth hemispheres. EGU General Assembly (Vienna, Austria, 2-7 April 2006). Geophysical Research Abstracts, Volume 8, abstract # EGU06-A-01680 © European Geosciences Union 2006. [5] Barkin Yu.V. (2008) Secular polar drift of the core in present epoch: geodynamical and geophysical consequences and confirmations. General and regional problems of tectonics and geodynamics. Materials of XLI Tectonic Conference. V. 1. - M.:GEOS. p. 55-59. In Russian. [6] Barkin Yu.V. and Jin Shuanggen (2007) On variations of the mean radius of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the Earth. EGU General Assembly (Vienna, Austria, 15-20 April 2007). Geoph. Res. Abs., Vol. 9, 2007, abstract # EGU07-A-08183. [7] Barkin Yu.V. (2009) An explanation of secular variations of a gravity at stations Ny-Alesund, Medicine, Churchill and Syowa. Materials of the International Conference: « Yu.P. Bulashevich's fifth scientific readings. A deep structure. Geodynamics. A thermal field of the Earth. Interpretation of geophysical fields» (Ekaterinburg, 6 - 10 July, 2009). pp. 27-31. In Russian. [8] Raznitsyn Yu.N., Barkin Yu.V. (2009) Submeridional compression of Atlantic lithosphere and a polar drift of the core of the Earth. «Geology of the seas and oceans: Materials of XVII International scientific conference (school) on sea geology». vol.V. - M.: GEOS. p. 246-250. In Russian. [9] Barkin,Yu.V. (2000) Kinematical regularities in plate motion. Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions, Vol. 18, Issue 6, pp. 763-778. [10] Bozhko N.A., Barkin Yu.V. (2009) A dissymmetry of tectonic processes during supercontinental cyclicity as dynamic consequence of relative polar displacements of the core and mantle of the Earth. Geology of polar areas of the Earth. Materials of XLII Tectonic meeting. Vol. 1.-M.: GEOS. P. 66-70. In Russian.

  3. A multigap resistive plate chamber array for the Extreme Energy Events project

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    De Gruttola, D.; Abbrescia, M.; Agocs, A.; Aiola, S.; Antolini, R.; Avanzini, C.; Baldini Ferroli, R.; Bencivenni, G.; Bossini, E.; Bressan, E.; Chiavassa, A.; Cical, C.; Cifarelli, L.; Coccia, E.; De Pasquale, S.; Di Giovanni, A.; D'Incecco, M.; Dreucci, M.; Fabbri, F. L.; Frolov, V.; Garbini, M.; Gemme, G.; Gnesi, I.; Gustavino, C.; Hatzifotiadou, D.; La Rocca, P.; Li, S.; Librizzi, F.; Maggiora, A.; Massai, M.; Miozzi, S.; Panareo, M.; Paoletti, R.; Perasso, L.; Pilo, F.; Piragino, G.; Regano, A.; Riggi, F.; Righini, G. C.; Sartorelli, G.; Scapparone, E.; Scribano, A.; Selvi, M.; Serci, S.; Siddi, E.; Spandre, G.; Squarcia, S.; Taiuti, M.; Tosello, F.; Votano, L.; Williams, M. C. S.; Yanez, G.; Zichichi, A.; Zouyevski, R.

    2014-10-01

    The Extreme Energy Events (EEE) Project is a Centro Fermi - CERN - INFN - MIUR Collaboration Project for the study of extremely high energy cosmic rays, which exploits the Multigap Resistive Plate Chamber (MRPC) technology. The excellent time resolution and good tracking capability of this kind of detector allows us to study Extensive Air Showers (EAS) with an array of MRPC telescopes distributed across the Italian territory. Each telescope is installed in a high school, with the further goal to introduce students to particle and astroparticle Physics. The status of the experiment and the results obtained are reported.

  4. Late Neoproterozoic thermal events in the northern Lhasa terrane, south Tibet: Zircon chronology and tectonic implications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dong, Xin; Zhang, Zeming; Santosh, M.; Wang, Wei; Yu, Fei; Liu, Feng

    2011-12-01

    The high-grade metamorphic rocks from the Lhasa terrane, south Tibet, have been traditionally grouped as the Precambrian metamorphic basement. However, a number of recent studies show that these metamorphic rocks from the southern part of Lhasa terrane, including granulite- and eclogite-facies rocks, were metamorphosed during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Based on the LA-ICP-MS in situ zircon U-Pb chronology, we report for the first time late Neoproterozoic metamorphic and magmatic events from the Lhasa terrane. The rocks analyzed in this study occur in the northern part of Lhasa terrane, and include amphibolite, garnet-bearing muscovite schist and marble, with the mineral assemblages of hornblende + andesine + quartz, muscovite + garnet + plagioclase + quartz and calcite + diopside + quartz, indicating an amphibolite-facies metamorphic event. Zircons from a marble and an amphibolite sample show typical features of metamorphic origin, and yield peak-metamorphic ages of ca. 676 Ma and ca. 661 Ma, respectively. Zircons from another amphibolite sample possess inherited magmatic cores and metamorphic overgrown rims, yielding a protolith age of ca. 856 Ma and a metamorphic age of ca. 683 Ma. Zircons from the schist include detrital magmatic cores showing a wide spectrum of Proterozoic ages from ca. 1747 to 789 Ma, representing derivation from multiple sources. However, the metamorphic rims of these zircons yield an age population of ca. 690 Ma. Based on the geochemical and geochronological data presented in this work and from a synthesis of data from previous studies, we propose the location of the Lhasa terrain in a reconstruction of the Neoproterozoic Rodinia supercontinent. We correlate the late Neoproterozoic metamorphic and magmatic events with an Andean-type orogeny that resulted from oceanic subduction beneath the northwestern margin of the Rodinia supercontinent. We correlate the orogeny with a global-scale late Proterozoic arc magmatism widely represented in the Seychelles, Madagascar, northwestern India and South China.

  5. The distribution and composition characteristics of siliceous rocks from Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt, South China: constraint on the tectonic evolution of plates in South China.

    PubMed

    Li, Hongzhong; Zhai, Mingguo; Zhang, Lianchang; Zhou, Yongzhang; Yang, Zhijun; He, Junguo; Liang, Jin; Zhou, Liuyu

    2013-01-01

    The Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt is a significant tectonic zone between the Yangtze and Cathaysian plates, where plentiful hydrothermal siliceous rocks are generated. Here, the authors studied the distribution of the siliceous rocks in the whole tectonic zone, which indicated that the tensional setting was facilitating the development of siliceous rocks of hydrothermal genesis. According to the geochemical characteristics, the Neopalaeozoic siliceous rocks in the north segment of the Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt denoted its limited width. In comparison, the Neopalaeozoic Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt was diverse for its ocean basin in the different segments and possibly had subduction only in the south segment. The ocean basin of the north and middle segments was limited in its width without subduction and possibly existed as a rift trough that was unable to resist the terrigenous input. In the north segment of the Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt, the strata of hydrothermal siliceous rocks in Dongxiang copper-polymetallic ore deposit exhibited alternative cycles with the marine volcanic rocks, volcanic tuff, and metal sulphide. These sedimentary systems were formed in different circumstances, whose alternative cycles indicated the release of internal energy in several cycles gradually from strong to weak. PMID:24302882

  6. The Distribution and Composition Characteristics of Siliceous Rocks from Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay Joint Belt, South China: Constraint on the Tectonic Evolution of Plates in South China

    PubMed Central

    Li, Hongzhong; Zhai, Mingguo; Zhang, Lianchang; Zhou, Yongzhang; Yang, Zhijun; He, Junguo; Liang, Jin; Zhou, Liuyu

    2013-01-01

    The Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt is a significant tectonic zone between the Yangtze and Cathaysian plates, where plentiful hydrothermal siliceous rocks are generated. Here, the authors studied the distribution of the siliceous rocks in the whole tectonic zone, which indicated that the tensional setting was facilitating the development of siliceous rocks of hydrothermal genesis. According to the geochemical characteristics, the Neopalaeozoic siliceous rocks in the north segment of the Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt denoted its limited width. In comparison, the Neopalaeozoic Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt was diverse for its ocean basin in the different segments and possibly had subduction only in the south segment. The ocean basin of the north and middle segments was limited in its width without subduction and possibly existed as a rift trough that was unable to resist the terrigenous input. In the north segment of the Qinzhou Bay-Hangzhou Bay joint belt, the strata of hydrothermal siliceous rocks in Dongxiang copper-polymetallic ore deposit exhibited alternative cycles with the marine volcanic rocks, volcanic tuff, and metal sulphide. These sedimentary systems were formed in different circumstances, whose alternative cycles indicated the release of internal energy in several cycles gradually from strong to weak. PMID:24302882

  7. Two-stage evolution of the Earth's mantle inferred from numerical simulation of coupled magmatism-mantle convection system with tectonic plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ogawa, Masaki

    2014-03-01

    Self-consistent numerical models are developed for a coupled magmatism-mantle convection system with tectonic plates in a two-dimensional rectangular box to understand the Earth's mantle evolution. The mantle evolves in two stages owing to decaying internal and basal heating, provided that the lithosphere is mechanically strong enough to inhibit spontaneous formation of new subduction zones by ridge push force. On the earlier stage that continues for the first 1-2 Gyr, the deep mantle is strongly heated, and hot materials there frequently ascend to the surface as bursts. The mantle bursts cause vigorous magmatism and make the lithosphere move chaotically. The thermostat effect of the vigorous magmatism keeps the average temperature in the upper mantle below about 1800 K no matter how strongly the mantle is heated. As the heating rate of the mantle declines, however, the mantle evolves into the later stage where mantle bursts subside, rigid tectonic plates emerge to move rather steadily, and subducted basaltic crusts accumulate on the core-mantle boundary to form compositionally dense piles. Hot plumes occasionally ascend from the basaltic piles to cause magmatism. It takes time on the order of one billion years for the slabs that sink into the lower mantle to return back to the upper mantle, and the long overturn time makes the thermal history of the upper mantle, which has been petrologically constrained for the Earth, distinct from that of the whole mantle. The long overturn time also makes water injected into the mantle by slabs distribute heterogeneously.

  8. The Interpretation of Crustal Dynamics Data in Terms of Plate Interactions and Active Tectonics of the Anatolian Plate and Surrounding Regions in the Middle East

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoz, M. Nafi; Reilinger, Robert E.

    1990-01-01

    During the past 6 months, efforts were concentrated on the following areas: (1) Continued development of realistic, finite element modeling of plate interactions and associated deformation in the Eastern Mediterranean; (2) Neotectonic field investigations of seismic faulting along the active fault systems in Turkey with emphasis on identifying seismic gaps along the North Anatolian fault; and (3) Establishment of a GPS regional monitoring network in the zone of ongoing continental collision in eastern Turkey (supported in part by NSF).

  9. Nappes, tectonics of oblique plate convergence, and metamorphic evolution related to 140 million years of continuous subduction, Franciscan Complex, California

    SciTech Connect

    Wakabayashi, J. )

    1992-01-01

    This paper presents a new synthesis of Franciscan Complex tectonics, with the emphasis on the pre-San Andreas fault history of these rocks. Field relations suggest that the Franciscan is characterized by nappe structures that formed during sequential accretion at the trench. The presence of these structures along with other field relations, including the lack of evidence for large offset of conglomerate suites, indicates that strike-slip fault systems of large displacement ({gt}500 km) did not cut the Franciscan Complex during subduction. Regional geology and comparisons to modern arc-trench systems suggest that strike-slip faulting associated with oblique subduction took place inboard (east) of the Franciscan in the vicinity of the magmatic arc. The Franciscan varies along strike, because individual accreted elements (packets of trench sediment, seamounts, etc.) did not extend the full length of the trench. Different depths of underplating, distribution of post-metamorphic faulting, and level of erosion produced the present-day surface distribution of high P/T metamorphism. Franciscan Complex tectonic history is presented in this paper.

  10. Plate motion

    SciTech Connect

    Gordon, R.G. )

    1991-01-01

    The motion of tectonic plates on the earth is characterized in a critical review of U.S. research from the period 1987-1990. Topics addressed include the NUVEL-1 global model of current plate motions, diffuse plate boundaries and the oceanic lithosphere, the relation between plate motions and distributed deformations, accelerations and the steadiness of plate motions, the distribution of current Pacific-North America motion across western North America and its margin, plate reconstructions and their uncertainties, hotspots, and plate dynamics. A comprehensive bibliography is provided. 126 refs.

  11. Late Neoproterozoic thermal events in the northern Lhasa terrane, south Tibet: Zircon chronology and tectonic implications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhang, Z.; Dong, X.; Santosh, M.; Liu, F.; Liou, J.

    2010-12-01

    The Tibetan Plateau is principally a collage of four terranes; from north to south they are the Songpan-Ganzi, Qiangtang, Lhasa and Himalaya terranes. These terranes are separated by the Jinsha Suture (JS), Bangong-Nujiang Suture (BNS), and Indus-Tsangpo Suture (ITS) zones, representing Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo-Tethyan oceanic relics, respectively. The Lhasa terrane at the southern Tibet, a large microcontinent with a width of 100 to 300 km and a length of ca. 2000 km, has been previously identified to consist dominantly of Precambrian metamorphic basement and Paleozoic - Mesozoic sedimentary and Mesozoic -Cenozoic magmatic rocks; high-grade metamorphic rocks have been traditionally grouped as the Precambrian metamorphic basement. However, numerous recent studies show that these metamorphic rocks from the southern part of the Lhasa terrane, including granulite- and eclogite-facies rocks, were metamorphosed during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. We have recently investigated some amphibolite-facies metamorphic rocks including amphibolite, garnet-bearing muscovite schist and marble from the northern part of the Lhasa terrane. Based on the in-situ zircon U-Pb chronology, we identify for the first time some late Neoproterozoic metamorphic and magmatic events from the Lhasa terrane. Zircons from a marble and an amphibolite samples show typical features of metamorphic origin, and yield peak-metamorphic ages of ca. 660 Ma and ca. 720 Ma, respectively. Zircons from another amphibolite sample possess inherited magmatic cores and metamorphic overgrown rims, yield a protolith age of ca. 838 Ma and a metamorphic age of ca. 729 Ma, respectively. Zircons from the schist include multiple detrital sources with magmatic cores of Proterozoic ages ranging from 1747 to 790 Ma and a consistent metamorphic rim age of ca. 690 Ma. Based on our new geochemical and geochronological data and the results of previous studies, we propose the juxtaposition of the Lhasa terrane in a reconstruction of the Neoproterozoic supercontinent; the late Neoproterozoic metamorphic and magmatic events might have been derived from an Andean-type orogeny, which was caused by oceanic subduction beneath the northwestern margin of the Rodinian supercontinent. The related orogeny might have resulted in late Proterozoic arc magmatism widely occurred in the Seychelles, Madagascar, NW India and South China.

  12. Volcano-tectonic evolution of the Santa Maria Island (Azores): Implications for paleostress evolution at the western Eurasia-Nubia plate boundary

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sibrant, A. L. R.; Hildenbrand, A.; Marques, F. O.; Costa, A. C. G.

    2015-01-01

    The growth and decay of oceanic volcanoes developed close to plate boundaries are intrinsically related to a competition between construction and destruction processes, partly controlled by tectonic strain and stresses. From morphologic, stratigraphic, tectonic and new high-precision K-Ar data, we present a comprehensive picture of the volcano-tectonic evolution of Santa Maria, and discuss its significance regarding the stress evolution and regional deformation in the Azores. Our new data show that: (1) the western flat portion of the island is mostly composed of west-dipping volcanic rocks here dated between 5.70 ± 0.08 and 5.33 ± 0.08 Ma, which we consider the remnants of an Older Shield Volcano; (2) more than half of this early volcanic complex has been removed by an east-directed large-scale sector collapse; (3) a second volcano, here coined the Younger Shield Volcano, grew rapidly on the collapse scar between at least 4.32 ± 0.06 and 3.94 ± 0.06 Ma; (4) more than half of this new volcano was removed by a second large-scale sector collapse most probably around 3.6 Ma, based on the ages of Parasitic Scoria Cones sitting unconformably on the Younger Shield Volcano; (5) the latest parasitic volcanic activity is here dated at 2.84 ± 0.04 Ma, extending significantly the known eruptive history of Santa Maria. Morpho-structural data (shape of the island, faults, dikes, and distribution of volcanic cones) show a significant control of construction and destruction along the N045° and N150° directions. The age of the lavas intruded by dikes suggests that the N045° and the N150° trends are ca. 5.3 Ma old and younger than ca. 4.3 Ma, respectively. Based on the new data, we conclude that a change in the regional stress field occurred between 5.3 and 4.3 Ma, most likely associated with a major reconfiguration of the Eurasia/Nubia plate boundary in the Azores.

  13. How tectonics controlled post-collisional magmatism within the Dinarides: Inferences based on study of tectono-magmatic events in the Kopaonik Mts. (Southern Serbia)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mladenović, Ana; Trivić, Branislav; Cvetković, Vladica

    2015-04-01

    In this study, we report evidence about coupling between tectonic and magmatic processes in a complex orogenic system. The study focuses on the Kopaonik Mts. situated between the Dinarides and the Carpatho-Balkanides (Southern Serbia), and a perfect area for investigating tectono-magmatic evolution. We combine a new data set on tectonic paleostress tensors with the existing information on Cenozoic magmatic rocks in the wider Kopaonik Mts. area. The paleostress study revealed the presence of four brittle deformational phases. The established link between fault mechanism and igneous processes suggests that two large tectono-magmatic events occurred in this area. The Late Eocene-Early Miocene tectono-magmatic event was generally characterized by transpressional tectonics that provided conditions for formation of basaltic underplating and subsequent lower crustal melting and generation of I-type magmas. Due to predominant compression in the first half of this event, these magmas could not reach the upper crustal levels. Later on, limited extensional pulses that occurred before the end of this event opened pathways for newly formed mantle melts to reach shallower crustal levels and mix with the evolving I-type magmas. The second event is Middle-Late Miocene in age. It was first associated with clear extensional conditions that caused advancing of basaltic melts to mid-crustal levels. This, in turn, induced the elevation of geotherms, melting of shallow crust and S-type granite formation. This event terminated with transpression that produced small volumes of basaltic melts and finally closed the igneous scene in this part of the Balkan Peninsula. Although we agree that the growth of igneous bodies is usually internally controlled and can be independent from the ambient structural pattern, we have strong reasons to believe that the integration of regional scale observations of fault kinematics with crucial petrogenetic information can be used for establishing spatial-temporal relationships between brittle tectonics and magmatism.

  14. The interpretation of crustal dynamics data in terms of plate interactions and active tectonics of the Anatolian Plate and surrounding regions in the Middle East

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Toksoz, M. Nafi

    1987-01-01

    The primary effort in this study during the past year has been directed along two separate lines: (1) expanding finite element models to include the entire Anatolian plate, the Aegean Sea and the Northeastern Mediterranean Sea, and (2) investigating the relationship between fault geometry and earthquake activity for the North Anatolian and similar strike-slip faults (e.g., San Andreas Fault). Both efforts are designed to provide an improved basis for interpreting the Crustal Dynamics measurements NASA has planned for this region. The initial phases of both investigations have been completed and the results are being prepared for publication. These investigations are described briefly.

  15. A hypothesis for Proterozoic-Phanerozoic supercontinent cyclicity, with implications for mantle convection, plate tectonics and Earth system evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Grenholm, Mikael; Scherstn, Anders

    2015-11-01

    We present a conceptual model for supercontinent cycles in the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic Eons. It is based on the repetitive behavior of C and Sr isotopes in marine carbonates and U-Pb ages and ?Hf of detrital zircons seen during the Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic and Paleoproterozoic Eras, respectively. These records are considered to reflect secular changes in global tectonics, and it is hypothesized that the repetitive pattern is caused by the same type of changes in global tectonics. The fundamental premise of this paper is that such repetitive changes should also be recorded in orogenic belts worldwide. This carries the implication that Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic orogenic belts should have Paleoproterozoic equivalents. It is proposed that this is the case for the East African, Uralides and Ouachita-Alleghanian orogens, which have Paleoproterozoic analogs in the West African-Amazon, Laurentian and East European cratons, respectively. The Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic orogenic belts are not isolated features but occur in a specific global context, which correspond to the relatively well-constrained Neoproterozoic break-up of Rodinia, and the subsequent Late Paleozoic assembly of Pangea. The existence of Paleoproterozoic equivalents to Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic orogens requires that the same cycle defined the Paleoproterozoic. We therefore hypothesize that there were Paleoproterozoic supercontinents equivalent to Rodinia and Pangea, and that Proterozoic-Phanerozoic supercontinents are comprised of two basic types of configurations, equivalent to Rodinia (R-type) and Pangea (P-type). The Paleoproterozoic equivalent of Rodinia is likely the first supercontinent to have formed, and Proterozoic-Phanerozoic supercontinent cycles are therefore defined by R- to R-type cycles, each lasting approximately 1.5 Gyr. We use this cyclic pattern as a framework to develop a conceptual model that predicts the configuration and cycles of Proterozoic-Phanerozoic supercontinents, and their relation to mantle convection and Earth system evolution.

  16. Early Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic intraplate tectonic and magmatic events in the Cathaysia Block, South China

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shu, Liangshu; Wang, Bo; Cawood, Peter A.; Santosh, M.; Xu, Zhiqin

    2015-08-01

    The geodynamic framework of the South China Craton in the Early Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic has been modeled as developing through either oceanic convergence or intracontinental settings. On the basis of an integrated structural, geochemical, zircon U-Pb and Hf isotopic, and mica 40Ar/39Ar geochronologic study we establish that an intracontinental setting is currently the best fit for the available data. Our results suggest that widespread tectonomagmatic activity involving granite emplacement and mylonitic deformation occurred during two distinct stages: ~435-415 Ma and ~230-210 Ma. The coeval nature of emplacement of the plutons and their ductile deformation is corroborated by the subparallel orientation of the mylonitic foliation along the pluton margins, gneissose foliation in the middle part of pluton, the magmatic foliation within the plutons, and the schistosity in the surrounding metamorphosed country rocks. The 435-415 Ma granitoids exhibit peraluminous, high-K characteristics, and zircons show negative ɛHf(t) values (average -6.2, n = 66), and Paleoproterozoic two-stage model ages of circa 2.21-1.64 Ga (average 1.84 Ga). The data suggest that the Early Paleozoic plutons were derived from the partial melting of the Paleoproterozoic basement of the Cathaysia Block. The 230-210 Ma granites are potassic and have zircons with ɛHf(t) values of -2.8--8.7 (average -5.4, n = 62), corresponding to TDM2 ages ranging from 2.0 to 1.44 Ga (average 1.64 Ga), suggesting that the Early Mesozoic partial melts in Cathaysia were also derived from basement. The geochemical distinction between the two phases of granites traces continental crustal evolution with time, with the Early Mesozoic crust enriched in potassium, silicon, and aluminum, but deficient in calcium, relative to the Paleozoic crust. Kinematical investigations provide evidence for an early-stage ductile deformation with a doubly vergent thrusting pattern dated at 433 ± 1 to 428 ± 1 Ma (40Ar/39Ar furnace step-heating pseudoplateau ages obtained on muscovite and biotite from mylonite and deformed granite) and a late-stage strike-slip movement with sinistral sense of ductile shearing at 232 ± 1 to 234 ± 1 Ma (40Ar/39Ar furnace step-heating pseudoplateau ages) along an E-W direction. The geological, geochemical, and isotopic signatures likely reflect far-field effects in response to continental assembly events at these times.

  17. Upper plate responses to active spreading ridge/transform subduction: The tectonics, basin evolution, and seismicity of the Taita area, Chile Triple Junction

    SciTech Connect

    Flint, S.; Prior, D. ); Styles, P.; Murdie, R. ); Agar, S.; Turner, P. )

    1993-02-01

    Integrated field geophysical, structural and stratigraphic studies are attempting to elucidate the mechanisms and consequences of the Late Miocene-present day subduction of the Chile Ridge triple junction system. Preliminary data indicate a shallow plane of seismicity at about 15 km to 20 km depth below the Taitao peninsula. The depths correspond to the predicted depth range of subducted upper ocean crust. The calculated Bouguer anomaly map cannot be explained by the upper plate geology, suggesting that gravity is influenced by heterogeneities in the subducting oceanic plate. Seismic data imply that a subducted transform system underlying the inner Taitao Peninsula is still an active structure. A series of Middle-Late Tertiary sedimentary basins lie inboard of the triple junction. Within the Cosmelli basin, abrupt marine to continental facies transitions give clear evidence of base level changes. The amount of basinward shift of facies across sequence boundaries gets progressively greater up stratigraphy, indicating progressively greater base level changes. The lower part of the basin fill is folded and then thrusted eastward as a series of imbricates, while the overlying, greater thickness of fluvial sediments are only gently tilted westwards. We provisionally interpret this geometry to indicate that the early basin fill was deforming due to contractional tectonics while the later basin fill was being deposited. This complex basin history may reflect initiation and development of triple junction subduction.

  18. The tectonics of Mercury

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Melosh, H. J.; Mckinnon, W. B.

    1988-01-01

    The probable tectonic history of Mercury and the relative sequence of events are discussed on the basis of data collected by the Mariner-10 spacecraft. Results indicate that Mercury's tectonic activity was confined to its early history; its endogenic activity was principally due to a small change in the shape of its lithosphere, caused by tidal despinning, and a small change in area caused by shrinkage due to cooling. Exogenic processes, in particular the impact activity, have produced more abundant tectonic features. Many features associated with the Caloris basin are due to loading of Mercury's thick lithosphere by extrusive lavas or subsidence due to magma withdrawal. It is emphasized that tectonic features observed on Mercury yield insight into the earliest tectonic events on planets like Mars and, perhaps, the earth, where subsequent events obscured or erased the most ancient tectonic records.

  19. Neocene and Quaternary extent and geometry of the subducted Pacific Plate beneath North Island, New Zealand: Implications for Kaikoura tectonics

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kamp, Peter J. J.

    1984-10-01

    The extent and geometry of the obliquely subduced oceanic Pacific Plate beneath North Island, New Zealand, for five million year intervals through the mid-Miocene to Quaternary, are presented in a series of maps and cross-sections. These show that the subducted plate progressively increased its extent from NE to SW beneath the North Island, and in the more northern regions where it was first emplaced, concomitantly increased its dip from 10 to 50. The changing extent and geometry of the subducted slab has been established from the age pattern of orogenic andesites and from the geochemical K 2O- h parameter of depth of magma generation. The radiometric dates show a migration of the volcanic front back towards the trench at an average rate of 20 km/My. The trenchward migration is explained by a model of increasing slab dip which is corroborated by the K 2O data calibrated against the presently active arc (Taupo Volcanic Zone). With the exception of northern Coromandel Peninsula, the andesitic magmas were generated at 85-100 km depth. The interpretation of the dates adopted here indicates that the subducted slab originated at the NE-SW trending Kermadec-Hikurangi Trench, and implies a different and much simpler evolution of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary in the vicinity of North Island than other recent models. Subduction geometry has been found elsewhere to be a principal influence upon the state of stress and deformational style in an over-riding plate. The possibility is explored that the timing, nature and pattern of the Neogene to Quaternary Kaikoura Orogeny in North Island is due to this influence. Apart from the effect of oblique subduction in eastern North Island, there is an accord between the onset of deformation and the emplacement sequence of the shallow slab beneath North Island, and between the change in subduction geometry and a progressive north to south change in northern North Island from compression to extension.

  20. A revised estimate of Pacific-North America motion and implications for Western North America plate boundary zone tectonics

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Demets, Charles; Gordon, Richard G.; Stein, Seth; Argus, Donald F.

    1987-01-01

    Marine magnetic profiles from the Gulf of Californa are studied in order to revise the estimate of Pacific-North America motion. It is found that since 3 Ma spreading has averaged 48 mm/yr, consistent with a new global plate motion model derived without any data. The present data suggest that strike-slip motion on faults west of the San Andreas is less than previously thought, reducing the San Andreas discrepancy with geodetic, seismological, and other geologic observations.

  1. Anisotropy in the subducting slab: Observations from Philippine Sea plate events in Taiwan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chen, Kate Huihsuan; Tseng, Yu-Lung; Furumura, Takashi; Kennett, Brian L. N.

    2015-12-01

    In the southernmost Ryukyu subduction zone, slab-guiding behavior from intermediate-depth earthquakes is well documented with a low-frequency (<2 Hz) first P arrival followed by sustained high-frequency (3-10 Hz) wave trains. Such waves developed by propagating along a long path within the slab are expected to have high sensitivity to anisotropy within the slab. We determine shear wave splitting parameters from 178 intraplate events that are deeper than 100 km. The possible slab-anisotropy-associated polarization pattern shows the fast direction at N65E and delay time of 0.13-0.45 s. This is stronger than the previously documented crust effect (<0.1 s), similar to the mantle wedge effect (0.28 s in average), but weaker than the upper mantle effect (1.3 s in average) in Taiwan. The fast axis reflects the fossil spreading direction of Philippine Sea plate with minor clockwise rotation due to the collision to Eurasian plate.

  2. Temporal change in plate coupling and long-term slow slip events in southwestern Japan

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ochi, Tadafumi

    2015-12-01

    In the southwestern part of Japan, many large earthquakes have been reported and many geodetic or seismic observations have been performed to monitor crustal deformation due to the interaction between the subducting Philippine Sea plate and the overriding continental plate along the Suruga-Nankai trough. These precise observations provide insight into aseismic stress-releasing processes such as slow slip events (SSEs). In this study, I focus on the effect of SSEs on interplate coupling to reveal the overall temporal evolution of interplate states along the trough in southwestern Japan. I focus mainly on the western part of the subduction zone, called the Nankai region. In this part, thre