Exploration Insights September 2020 | Page 26

14 | Halliburton Landmark

New Frontiers in Plate Boundaries

by : Jean-Christophe Wrobel-Daveau , Bruce Eglington and Graeme Nicoll
Crustal dynamics showing earthquakes , plate boundaries , and volcanoes . Image from https :// svs . gsfc . nasa . gov / 155 with credit to NASA / Goddard Space Flight Ce Research Project ( GCRP ), National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration ( NOAA ), United States Geological Survey , National Science Foundation ( NSF ), Defen ( DMA ), New York Film and Animation Company , Silicon Graphics , Inc . ( SGI ), Hughes STX Corporation .
Given a plate tectonic model is meant to be a singular representation of what the Earth looked like back through geological time , one might ask , why are so many different models available , and which one should I use ? In order to answer these questions , it is useful to understand the genealogy of the different plate tectonic models , what data underpin them , what methods and techniques are used to construct and update them , and what uncertainties are involved .
We will go on to consider how the scope and complexity of these models went hand-in-hand with growing computational power over the last 60 years . In order to compare and contrast the variety of plate tectonic models that exist today , we need to set out the main difference between plate tectonics and continental drift models , and consider the importance of plate tectonic boundaries .
This story builds on discussions in previous editions of the Exploration Insights magazine . Recent articles discussed the evolution of the theory of plate tectonics and its importance to all geological concepts ( Wrobel-Daveau and Nicoll , 2019 ), and how in the modern age , plate tectonic models are an important tool for use in natural resource exploration workflows ( Lang et al ., 2020 ).
The first attempts at reconstructing the paleoposition of continental land masses were hand-drawn as far back as the 17 th century by Dutch map makers , and later in the 20 th century by Alfred Wegner and Boris Choubert ( Kornprobst et al ., 2018 ). However , these were really just singular snapshots of often poorly constrained geological times , and are more akin to paleogeographic maps ( Figure 1 ). Indeed , they lacked the understanding of geodynamic processes , such as the absolute and relative motion of plates on a sphere , the driving mechanisms behind plate motion , and the existence of plate limits .