A controversial lost tectonic plate can be discovered by geologists


Geologists believe that about 60 million years ago, the Farallon and Kula tectonic plates off the coast of North America covered a vast area of ​​the Earth’s surface in the Pacific Ocean. However, there is a debate about whether a third plate existed, called the resurrection.

Now researchers at the University of Houston think they may have found the remains of the resurrection, hidden beneath northern Canada – buried through processes of crushing, re-shaping, and subduction, as the tectonic plate forms a Slide into another.

He has called the plate as ‘Yukon Slab’.

“We believe that we have direct evidence that a resurrection plate existed,” says geologist Spencer Fasten. “We are also trying to resolve a debate and advocate the side for which our data supports.”

Through some detailed scans of the Earth’s interior and computer modeling that trace the geological clock back to the early Cenozoic era, researchers have shown how the revival could have been slowed, along with the Farallon and Kula plates.

Plate tectonic reconstructions of western North America 60 million years ago. (University of Houston)

This is not the first time that scientists have found signs of the existence of a resurrection plate named after the Resurrection Peninsula near Seward in Alaska – but the evidence so far is less than conclusive.

In this case, the researchers analyzed mantle tomography images, which act like CT scans of the Earth. They were combined with a process known as slab unfolding, which rolls the changes of the plate using 3D mapping to bring it back to its original shape.

The animation below shows a reconstruction of plate tectonics from 60 million years ago (Ma) to the present day.

“When I lifted back to the Earth’s surface and rebuilt, the boundaries of this ancient resurgent tectonic plate coincide well with the ancient volcanic belts in Washington State and Alaska, linking between the ancient Pacific Ocean and the North American geologist Demands. Records, “says geologist Johnny Wu from the University of Houston.

60 million years in the making of a tectonic mystery, along with identifying mineral and hydrocarbon deposits and helping to improve the accuracy of volcanic modeling, can also help in the modern day.

“Volcanoes form at the boundaries of the plate, and the more plates you have, the more volcanoes there are,” says Wu.

“Volcanoes also affect climate change. So, when you’re trying to model the Earth and understand how the climate has changed over time, you really want to know how many volcanoes there are on Earth . ”

Live m 2(Fasten and Wu, GSA Bulletin 2020)

There is much to find out about the planet’s tectonic history, with recent studies looking at timescale issues for this geological evolution and how these tectonic plates evolved in the first place.

And of course this shifting, sliding, and subducting continues to the planet’s surface today: Researchers have identified major location activity beneath the Atlantic Ocean and in the northwestern US.

According to researchers’ calculations, the edges of what they say coincide with well-known areas of resurgent plate volcanic activity, raising the idea that plate remnants that spread under Northern Canada are actually resurfaced.

The research has been published in GSA Bulletin.

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