Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
Research article
01 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 01 Aug 2014

Plate tectonic raster reconstruction in GPlates

J. Cannon, E. Lau, and R. D. Müller

Abstract. We describe a novel method implemented in the GPlates plate tectonic reconstruction software to interactively reconstruct arbitrarily high-resolution raster data to past geological times using a rotation model. The approach is based on the projection of geo-referenced raster data into a cube map followed by a reverse projection onto rotated tectonic plates on the surface of the globe. This decouples the rendering of a geo-referenced raster from its reconstruction, providing a number of benefits including a simple implementation and the ability to combine rasters with different geo-referencing or inbuilt raster projections. The cube map projection is accelerated by graphics hardware in a wide variety of computer systems manufactured over the last decade. Furthermore, by integrating a multi-resolution tile partitioning into the cube map we can provide on-demand tile streaming, level-of-detail rendering and hierarchical visibility culling, enabling researchers to visually explore essentially unlimited resolution geophysical raster data attached to tectonic plates and reconstructed through geological time. This capability forms the basis for interactively building and improving plate reconstructions in an iterative fashion, particularly for tectonically complex regions.