Absolute plate motions and true polar wander in the absence of hotspot tracks

  title={Absolute plate motions and true polar wander in the absence of hotspot tracks},
  author={B. Steinberger and T. Torsvik},
The motion of continents relative to the Earth’s spin axis may be due either to rotation of the entire Earth relative to its spin axis—true polar wander—or to the motion of individual plates. In order to distinguish between these over the past 320 Myr (since the formation of the Pangaea supercontinent), we present here computations of the global average of continental motion and rotation through time in a palaeomagnetic reference frame. Two components are identified: a steady northward motion… Expand
Limited true polar wander as evidence that Earth's nonhydrostatic shape is persistently triaxial
Earth's spin axis follows the maximum moment of inertia axis of mantle convection, with some delay due to adjustment of the rotational bulge. Here we compute this axis for geodynamic models based onExpand
Mechanisms for oscillatory true polar wander
A nonlinear rotational stability theory is extended to incorporate the stabilizing effect of TPW-induced elastic stresses in the lithosphere, demonstrating that convectively driven inertia perturbations acting on a nearly prolate, non-hydrostatic Earth with an effective elastic lithospheric thickness of about 10 kilometres yield oscillatory TPW paths consistent with palaeomagnetic inferences. Expand
Paleo movement of continents since 300 Ma, mantle dynamics and large wander of the rotational pole
Abstract Apparent polar wander (APW) is known to be mainly linked to internal mass distribution changes and in particular to changes in subduction and large-scale upwellings in the mantle. WeExpand
True polar wander in mantle convection models with multiple, mobile continents
a b s t r a c t a r t i c l e i n f o The geologic record supports numerous instances during which continents apparently moved at speeds signi! cantly faster than any of today's tectonic plates.Expand
History and dynamics of net rotation of the mantle and lithosphere
The net rotation of Earth's lithosphere with respect to the underlying mantle is the longest-wavelength component of toroidal flow in the mantle and is sensitive to both mantle buoyancy structure andExpand
Testing absolute plate reference frames and the implications for the generation of geodynamic mantle heterogeneity structure
Absolute reference frames are a means of describing the motion of plates on the surface of the Earth over time, relative to a fixed point or “frame.” Multiple models of absolute plate motion haveExpand
Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events Since Pangea Breakup
We present a revised global plate motion model with continuously closing plate boundaries ranging from the Triassic at 230 Ma to the present day, assess differences among alternative absolute plateExpand
Plate tectonics and net lithosphere rotation over the past 150 My
We have developed an improved model of global digital palaeo-plate boundaries and plate motion to describe the distribution and history of plates since the Late Jurassic. From this history weExpand
Stability of active mantle upwelling revealed by net characteristics of plate tectonics
It is shown that the time dependence of global-scale mantle flow can be deduced from the net behaviour of surface plate motions, and the positions of quadrupole divergence have not moved significantly during the past 250 million years, which suggests long-term stability of mantle upwelling beneath Africa and the Pacific Ocean. Expand
A Late Cretaceous true polar wander oscillation
This observation represents the most recent large-scale TPW documented and challenges the notion that the spin axis has been largely stable over the past 100 million years. Expand


Apparent and true polar wander and the geometry of the geomagnetic field over the last 200 Myr
[1] We have constructed new apparent polar wander paths (APWPs) for major plates over the last 200 Myr. Updated kinematic models and selected paleomagnetic data allowed us to construct a master APWP.Expand
True polar wander during the Permo^Triassic
The apparent polar wander path for the Pangea supercontinent is about 35° long for the interval of 295-205Ma, which means that in that interval Pangea rotated over an angle of 35° with respect to theExpand
Changes of the Earth's rotation axis owing to advection of mantle density heterogeneities
Polar wander, the secular motion of the Earth's rotation axis relative to its surface, has been studied for many years. Dynamical arguments1–3 show that polar wander can arise from the redistributionExpand
Some remarks on polar wandering
This paper lends fresh support to the hypothesis that large angular displacements of the earth's rotation axis relative to the entire mantle have occurred on a geological time scale, owing to theExpand
Relative hotspot motions versus True Polar Wander
Abstract The fixity of hotspots and mantle plume locations has long been axiomatic. If the assumption of fixed hotspots is granted, ‘absolute’ plate motions and movements of the spin axis withExpand
True polar wander and supercontinents
Abstract I present a general model for true polar wander (TPW), in the context of supercontinents and simple modes of mantle convection. Old, mantle-stationary supercontinents shield their underlyingExpand
Global plate motion frames: Toward a unified model
[1] Plate tectonics constitutes our primary framework for understanding how the Earth works over geological timescales. High-resolution mapping of relative plate motions based on marine geophysicalExpand
Theoretical constraints on true polar wander
[1] For the present geologic epoch, true polar wander (TPW) is relatively small, but simple theoretical considerations suggest that it could have been larger in other epochs. In this work, we useExpand
Current plate motions
SUMMARY We determine best-fitting Euler vectors, closure-fitting Euler vectors, and a new global model (NUVEL-1) describing the geologically current motion between 12 assumed-rigid plates byExpand
Evidence for a Large-Scale Reorganization of Early Cambrian Continental Masses by Inertial Interchange True Polar Wander
Analysis of Vendian to Cambrian paleomagnetic data shows anomalously fast rotations and latitudinal drift for all of the major continents. These motions are consistent with an Early to MiddleExpand