A new map of tectonic plates


Terrestrial specificity, the crust of our planet is divided into numerous tectonic plateswho have the ability to moveunder the impulse of the convection mantle and main tectonic processes: accretion oceanic and subduction. Self cutting the main dishes it is now a consensus, however, there are several models that present, in detail, many configuration variations at the level of the plate margins.

The tectonic plates, pieces of a puzzle with still blurred outlines

Why the the earth’s crust it can be compared to a puzzle whose outline of the pieces is still little known. However, the exact definition of the plate boundaries is an important point for making precise reconstructions of the movement dishes and understand how they arrived alternately welded and then separated, during the major tectonic cycles experienced by the Earth. Furthermore, the boundaries of the plates always represent areas of intense deformation, associated with tectonic or magmatic processes. They can be extensive – and thus mark an ocean growth zone -, compressive – in which case they can be associated with a subduction zone or mountain range – or shear. The typical example of the latter case is the San Andreas Fault in the United States, an area prone to very large earthquakes.

Knowing in detail the characteristics of these different plate boundaries and precisely defining the extent of the deformation zone is essential for estimating the geographical risk to which the populations living in these regions are subjected.

New knowledge finally integrated into tectonic maps

A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia then examined the construction three new maps of the world: configuration of the tectonic plates, configuration of the main geological provinces and configuration of mountain ranges (recent or ancient). This is a database very complete and essential to carry out many studies.

The tectonic plate map had not been revised since 2003. However, much progress has been made since then, particularly on the definition of new microplates such as Macquarie’s, located in southern Tasmania, but also the Capricorn microplate that separates the plate. Indian and Australian. The big news, however, is to be found on the west coast of North America, where the zone of active deformation attributed to the San Andreas and Queen Charlotte faults has been enlarged compared to previous models. It now extends over 1,500km.

The new maps also more adequately illustrate the vast deformation zone affecting Central Asia, linked to India’s drilling within the Eurasia continent. This great collision, which is a the origin of the Himalayan range and the highest peak in the world, Everest, affects a very large area of ​​Asia that is regularly subject to earthquakes.

Better integration of seismic and volcanic events

The results of the study were published in the journal Earth Science Reviews. By integrating a large amount of data (GPSearthquakes, fault lines, anomalies from severity and magnetic anomalies, geochronology, etc.), these new maps allow to better explain the distribution and origin of 90% of earthquakes and 80% of volcanoes in the last two million years. By comparison, older models only captured 65 percent of earthquakes.

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