Plate Tectonics: a Deep Time & Planetary Perspective
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Earth is the only planet in the solar system on which plate tectonics occurs today. When did plate tectonics start on Earth and how long has it been in operation? Why do the the other terrestrial planets have single-plates and stagnant lids? Could they have had plate tectonics in the past? I present a literature review and overview of how Earth's plate tectonics operates and is measured today, how recent geodetic measurements (decade-scale) of plate motion compare to geologically determined (1-2 m.y.) ones, and how tectonics has likely evolved through Earth history. Complete melting and an early magma ocean (inferred; no record preserved), likely evolved into Archean vertical tectonics that produced sunken greenstone belts and diapiric TTG suites. The Meso-Proterozoic provides the first convincing record of rock products like passive margin sequences, blueschist, UHP rocks, and ophiolites that are easily related to modern plate tectonic processes. Thus, plate-like tectonics likely started in the Meso-Proterozoic, and Neo-Proterozoic and Phanerozoic Earth tectonics were probably much like modern plate tectonics.
On the Cutting Edge: Teaching About Time
Weber, John, "Plate Tectonics: a Deep Time & Planetary Perspective" (2011). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 245.
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