Deep Mantle Structure As a Reference Frame for Absolute Plate Motions
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 4:00 PM
Since the Pangea supercontinent formed some 320 million years ago, the majority of large igneous provinces and diamond-bearing rocks (kimberlites) near Earth’s surface can be sourced to plumes erupting from the margins of two large thermochemical reservoirs at the core-mantle boundary. Using this surface to core-mantle boundary correlation to locate continents in longitude and a new iterative approach for defining a paleomagnetic reference frame corrected for true polar wander, we present a model for plate motion back to earliest Paleozoic time (540 Ma). We have identified six phases of slow, oscillatory true polar wander during the Paleozoic. True polar wander rates (<1 Degree/Myr) are compatible to those in the Mesozoic but plate velocities are on average twice as high. We show that a geologically reasonable model that reconstructs continents in longitude in such a way that large igneous provinces and kimberlites are positioned above the plume generation zones at the times of their formation can be successfully applied to the entire Phanerozoic. Our model is a kinematic model for only the continents. The next step in improving it will be developing a model for the entire lithosphere, including synthetic oceanic lithosphere. This is challenging, but we will demonstrate a full-plate model back to the Late Paleozoic (410 Ma).