Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
Solid Earth, 8, 817–825, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-8-817-2017
Solid Earth, 8, 817–825, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-8-817-2017
Research article
07 Aug 2017
Research article | 07 Aug 2017

Breaking supercontinents; no need to choose between passive or active

Martin Wolstencroft and J. Huw Davies

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Short summary
A key aspect of plate tectonics is the periodic assembly and subsequent break-up of supercontinents. There is strong evidence that this has happened repeatedly over geological history, but exactly how a supercontinent breaks up is still debated. In this paper, we use computer modelling of Earth's interior to show that the force needed to break a supercontinent should always arise from a combination of global-scale passive pulling apart and active pushing apart forces driven by the mantle.