Articles | Volume 13, issue 7
Research article
 | Highlight paper
07 Jul 2022
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 07 Jul 2022

A tectonic-rules-based mantle reference frame since 1 billion years ago – implications for supercontinent cycles and plate–mantle system evolution

R. Dietmar Müller, Nicolas Flament, John Cannon, Michael G. Tetley, Simon E. Williams, Xianzhi Cao, Ömer F. Bodur, Sabin Zahirovic, and Andrew Merdith


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Executive editor
This manuscript describes the oldest model of the Earth's plate mantle system (back to 1000 million years ago), which allows visualising the "beating heart" of the Earth through time, across two supercontinent cycles. The model not only appeals to the geodynamic fascination, but would also enable spatio-temporal data analysis to discover past geodynamic environments which could for example host critical mineral deposits. An accompanying animation visualises the history of subduction and deep mantle upwellings with reconstructed continents overlain.
Short summary
We have built a community model for the evolution of the Earth's plate–mantle system. Created with open-source software and an open-access plate model, it covers the last billion years, including the formation, breakup, and dispersal of two supercontinents, as well as the creation and destruction of numerous ocean basins. The model allows us to see into the Earth in 4D and helps us unravel the connections between surface tectonics and the beating heart of the Earth, its convecting mantle.