Geologists update Earth’s tectonic plate model

Geologists update Earth’s tectonic plate model

A team of researchers from different universities, led by Derrick Hasterok of the University of Adelaide, has produced new models of Earth’s tectonic plates, showing how continents are organised. In addition to helping understand natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, models can also help scientists better understand our planet’s history.

Hastrock explained that the team looked at what is now known as tectonic plate boundaries, as well as the structure of continental crust in the past. “The continents are assembled a few pieces at a time, like a jigsaw puzzle, but each time the ‘game’ is completed, they are cut and rearranged to produce a new image,” he said.

Schematic of the new tectonic plate model, with the plate ‘boundaries’ darker (Photo: Reproduction/Dr Derrick Hasterok, University of Adelaide.)

In the study, the team produced geological models of plates, provinces and orogenic belts, each of which has different uses and advantages: For example, plate models can be used to improve geological hazard risk models, while provincial models can help find geological hazard risk models . minerals.

Orogeny models are important for understanding the geodynamic system and the evolution of the Earth. “There are 26 orogenic belts [o processo de formação de montanhas] This has left their mark on the current crustal structure,” Hastrock noted. “Many, but not all, of these have been associated with the formation of supercontinents. ”

The new plate model has some microplates, including the Macquarie plate in southern Tasmania and the Capricornus plate that separates the Indian and Australian plates. “To enrich the model, we added more precise information about the plate boundaries of the deformed zone; previous models showed them as discrete regions rather than broad regions,” he said.

In the video below, you can see the architecture of the Earth represented by the new model:

Considerable variation has been observed in the North American plate model. Only, typically, its western region borders the Pacific plate, drawn like the San Andreas and Queen Charlotte tectonic fault. “But the newly drawn boundary is much larger than the previously drawn area, about 1,500 kilometers,” Hastrock noted.

According to the team, the new plate tectonics model better explains the spatial distribution of 90 percent of earthquakes and 80 percent of volcanoes over the past 2 million years. “Our work allows us to update textbook maps of tectonic plate and continental formation,” the authors suggest. “These plate models were created from other topographic and global seismicity models and haven’t been updated since 2003.”

Articles with findings published in journals Geoscience Reviews.

Source: Geoscience Reviews; Via: University of Adelaide

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