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Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma

Seton, M. and Müller, R. D. and Zahirovic, S. and Gaina, C. and Torsvik, T. and Shepard, G. and Talsma, A. and Gurnis, M. and Turner, M. and Maus, S. and Chandler, M. (2012) Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma. Earth-Science Reviews, 113 (3-4). pp. 212-270. ISSN 0012-8252. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.002.

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Global plate motion models provide a spatial and temporal framework for geological data and have been effective tools for exploring processes occurring at the earth's surface. However, published models either have insufficient temporal coverage or fail to treat tectonic plates in a self-consistent manner. They usually consider the motions of selected features attached to tectonic plates, such as continents, but generally do not explicitly account for the continuous evolution of plate boundaries through time. In order to explore the coupling between the surface and mantle, plate models are required that extend over at least a few hundred million years and treat plates as dynamic features with dynamically evolving plate boundaries. We have constructed a new type of global plate motion model consisting of a set of continuously-closing topological plate polygons with associated plate boundaries and plate velocities since the break-up of the supercontinent Pangea. Our model is underpinned by plate motions derived from reconstructing the seafloor-spreading history of the ocean basins and motions of the continents and utilizes a hybrid absolute reference frame, based on a moving hotspot model for the last 100 Ma, and a true-polar wander corrected paleomagnetic model for 200 to 100 Ma. Detailed regional geological and geophysical observations constrain plate boundary inception or cessation, and time-dependent geometry. Although our plate model is primarily designed as a reference model for a new generation of geodynamic studies by providing the surface boundary conditions for the deep earth, it is also useful for studies in disparate fields when a framework is needed for analyzing and interpreting spatio-temporal data.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Seton, M.0000-0001-8541-1367
Müller, R. D.0000-0002-3334-5764
Zahirovic, S.0000-0002-6751-4976
Gurnis, M.0000-0003-1704-597X
Additional Information:© 2012 Elsevier B.V. Received 16 March 2011. Accepted 2 March 2012. Available online 15 March 2012. We thank Roi Granot and an anonymous reviewer for agreeing to review such a lengthy manuscript and for their thoughtful and careful review, which greatly improved the manuscript. We would also like to thank members of the EarthByte Group and the group at Caltech led by Michael Gurnis who have contributed over many years towards the continuous improvement of the global plate motion model and associated files. This project was funded through Australian Research Council grants FL0992245 and DP0987713.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Australian Research CouncilFL0992245
Australian Research CouncilDP0987713
Subject Keywords:Plate reconstructions; Plate motion model; Panthalassa; Laurasia; Tethys; Gondwana
Issue or Number:3-4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121030-135045951
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:M. Seton, R.D. Müller, S. Zahirovic, C. Gaina, T. Torsvik, G. Shephard, A. Talsma, M. Gurnis, M. Turner, S. Maus, M. Chandler, Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma, Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 113, Issues 3–4, July 2012, Pages 212-270, ISSN 0012-8252, 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.002. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35183
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:30 Oct 2012 21:17
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:13

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