Articles | Volume 13, issue 7
Solid Earth, 13, 1127–1159, 2022
Solid Earth, 13, 1127–1159, 2022
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 et al.

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Cited articles

Arnould, M., Ganne, J., Coltice, N., and Feng, X.: Northward drift of the Azores plume in the Earth's mantle, Nat. Commun., 10, 1–8, 2019. 
Auer, L., Boschi, L., Becker, T., Nissen-Meyer, T., and Giardini, D.: Savani: A variable resolution whole-mantle model of anisotropic shear velocity variations based on multiple data sets, J. Geophys. Res.-Sol. Ea., 119, 3006–3034,, 2014. 
Austermann, J., Kaye, B. T., Mitrovica, J. X., and Huybers, P.: A statistical analysis of the correlation between large igneous provinces and lower mantle seismic structure, Geophys. J. Int., 197, 1–9, 2014. 
Becker, T.: On the effect of temperature and strain-rate dependent viscosity on global mantle flow, net rotation, and plate-driving forces, Geophys. J. Int., 167, 943–957, 2006. 
Behn, M. D., Conrad, C. P., and Silver, P. G.: Detection of upper mantle flow associated with the African Superplume, Earth Planet. Sc. Lett., 224, 259–274, 2004. 
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.