Earth's tectonic and plate boundary evolution over 1.8 billion years

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Xianzhi Cao, Alan S. Collins , Sergei Pisarevsky, Nicolas Flament, Sanzhong Li, Derrick Hasterok, R. Dietmar Müller 


Understanding the intricate relationships between the solid Earth and its surface systems in deep time necessitates comprehensive full-plate tectonic reconstructions that include evolving plate boundaries and oceanic plates. In particular, a tectonic reconstruction that spans multiple supercontinent cycles is important to understand the long-term evolution of Earth's interior, surface environments and mineral resources. Here we present a new full-plate tectonic reconstruction from 1.8 Ga to present that combines and refines three published models: one full-plate tectonic
model spanning 1 Ga to present, and two continental-drift models focused on the late Paleoproterozoic to Mesoproterozoic eras. Our model is constrained by geological and geophysical data, and presented as a relative plate motion model in a palaeomagnetic reference frame. The model encompasses three supercontinents, Nuna (Columbia),
Rodinia, and Gondwana/Pangea, and more than two complete supercontinent cycles, covering ~40% of the Earth’s history. Our refinements to the base models are focussed on times before 1.0 Ga, with minor changes for the Neoproterozoic. For times between 1.8 Ga and 1.0 Ga, the root mean square speeds for all plates range between 4 and 10 cm/yr, and the net lithospheric rotation is below 0.9°/Myr, which are kinematically consistent with post-Pangean plate tectonic constraints. The time spans of the existence of Nuna and Rodinia are updated to between 1.6 Ga (1.65 Ga in the base model) and 1.46 Ga, and between 930 Ma and 780 Ma (800 Ma in the base model), respectively, based on geological and paleomagnetic data. We follow the base models to leave Amazonia/West Africa separate from Nuna (as well as Western Australia, which only collides with the remnants of Nuna after initial break-up), and South China/India separate from Rodinia. Contrary to the concept of a "boring billion", our model reveals a dynamic geological history between 1.8 Ga and 0.8 Ga, which is characterized by supercontinent assembly and breakup, continuous accretion events, and widespread LIP events. The model is publicly accessible, providing a framework for future refinements and facilitating deep time studies of Earth's system.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


plate reconstruction, Nuna, Supercontinent, Proterozoic, Palaeogeography, Nuna, supercontinent, Proterozoic, Palaeogeography


Published: 2023-08-23 06:26

Last Updated: 2023-08-23 13:26


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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