A key aspect of the behaviour of the Earth is the slow but inexorable flow of solid material at almost all levels in the crust and mantle. We are used to the idea of mantle convection, despite the fact that it is for the most part a solid crystalline material, and mountain belts are replete with strongly foliated metamorphic rocks that are the product of flow and deformation within crustal material. Our understanding of these processes comes partly from large-scale observations and modelling. Attempts have been made, for example, to create models that simulate plate tectonics. Whether such models predict...

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