The last 50 years have been an exciting time for earth science. Above all, plate tectonics provide an integrated explanation for the most obvious and dramatic geologic activity on the Earth’s surface: crustal deformation, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. This was the big ‘breaking story’ and still bitterly controversial when I was an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley in the late 1960’s and remains one of the greatest revolutions and paradigm shifts in the history of science. Plate tectonics, however, is only a part of what we have learned in the last 50 years. In addition, we now have a modest understanding of...

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