Exploring the theory of plate tectonics: the role of mantle lithosphere structure
Published:November 11, 2019
Philip J. Heron, Russell N. Pysklywec, Randell Stephenson, 2019. "Exploring the theory of plate tectonics: the role of mantle lithosphere structure", Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, R. W. Wilson, G. A. Houseman, K. J. W. McCaffrey, A. G. Doré, S. J. H. Buiter
Download citation file:
This review of the role of the mantle lithosphere in plate tectonic processes collates a wide range of recent studies from seismology and numerical modelling. A continually growing catalogue of deep geophysical imaging has illuminated the mantle lithosphere and generated new interpretations of how the lithosphere evolves. We review current ideas about the role of continental mantle lithosphere in plate tectonic processes. Evidence seems to be growing that scarring in the continental mantle lithosphere is ubiquitous, which implies a reassessment of the widely held view that it is the inheritance of crustal structure only (rather than the lithosphere as a whole) that is most important in the conventional theory of plate tectonics (e.g. the Wilson cycle). Recent studies have interpreted mantle lithosphere heterogeneities to be pre-existing structures and, as such, linked to the Wilson cycle and inheritance. We consider the current fundamental questions in the role of the mantle lithosphere in causing tectonic deformation, reviewing recent results and highlighting the potential of the deep lithosphere in infiltrating every aspect of plate tectonics processes.
Figures & Tables
Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Fifty years ago, Tuzo Wilson published his paper asking ‘Did the Atlantic close and then re-open?’. This led to the ‘Wilson Cycle’ concept in which the repeated opening and closing of ocean basins along old orogenic belts is a key process in the assembly and breakup of supercontinents. The Wilson Cycle underlies much of what we know about the geological evolution of the Earth and its lithosphere, and will no doubt continue to be developed as we gain more understanding of the physical processes that control mantle convection, plate tectonics, and as more data become available from currently less accessible regions.
This volume includes both thematic and review papers covering various aspects of the Wilson Cycle concept. Thematic sections include: (1) the Classic Wilson v. Supercontinent Cycles, (2) Mantle Dynamics in the Wilson Cycle, (3) Tectonic Inheritance in the Lithosphere, (4) Revisiting Tuzo's question on the Atlantic, (5) Opening and Closing of Oceans, and (6) Cratonic Basins and their place in the Wilson Cycle.