Now researchers at the University of Houston believe they may have found the remains of the Resurrection hidden beneath northern Canada – crushed, reshaped, and buried by the subduction processes as tectonic plates slide into one another.
They called the rest of the record the “Yukon Plate”.
“We believe we have direct evidence that the Resurrection Plate exists,” says geologist Spencer Fuston. “We’re also trying to resolve a debate and advocate which side our data supports.”
Through some detailed scans of the Earth’s interior and computer models that trace the geological clock back to the early Cenozoic, the researchers have shown how the resurrection could have happened next to the Farallon and Kula plates.
Plate tectonic reconstruction of western North America 60 million years ago. (University of Houston)
This isn’t the first time scientists have found evidence of the existence of the Resurrection Plate – named for the Resurrection Peninsula near Seward, Alaska – but so far the evidence has been less than conclusive.
In this case, the researchers analyzed mantle tomography images that work like CT scans of the earth. They were combined using a process known as unfolding the plate, which used 3D mapping to reset the plate’s transformations and restore it to its original shape.
The following animation shows a reconstruction of the plate tectonics from 60 million years ago (Ma) to today.
“When the boundaries of this ancient tectonic plate of the resurrection are brought back to the surface and reconstructed, they will fit well with the ancient volcanic belts in Washington State and Alaska and create a coveted link between the ancient Pacific and the geological records of North America” , Says geologist Jonny Wu of the University of Houston.
Not only does the discovery solve a tectonic puzzle dating back about 60 million years, but it could also help in the modern day by identifying mineral and hydrocarbon deposits and improving the accuracy of volcanic modeling.
“Volcanoes form at plate boundaries, and the more plates you have, the more volcanoes you have,” says Wu.
“Volcanoes also have an impact on climate change. So if you are trying to model the earth and understand how the climate has changed since time, you really want to know how many volcanoes there have been on earth. ”
(Fuston and Wu, GSA Bulletin 2020)
There is still much to be discovered about the planet’s tectonic history. Current studies address the timescale problems for this geological evolution and the evolution of these tectonic plates.
And of course, this shifting, sliding, and subducting continues on the surface of the planet today: Researchers have identified important local activities below the Atlantic and in the northwestern United States.
According to the researchers’ calculations, the edges of the Resurrection Plate coincide with known areas of volcanic activity, which supports the assumption that the plate remnants discovered under northern Canada are indeed resurrection.
The research was published in GSA Bulletin.
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