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The integration of palaeomagnetism, the geological record and mantle tomography in the location of ancient continents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2017

Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED), University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ, 14473 Potsdam, Germany NGU Geodynamics, 7040 Trondheim, Norway School of Geosciences, University of Witwatersrand, Witwatersrand, South Africa
Department of Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
Author for correspondence:


Constructing palaeogeographical maps is best achieved through the integration of data from hotspotting (since the Cretaceous), palaeomagnetism (including ocean-floor magnetic anomalies since the Jurassic), and the analysis of fossils and identification of their faunal and floral provinces; as well as a host of other geological information, not least the characters of the rocks themselves. Recently developed techniques now also allow us to determine more objectively the palaeolongitude of continents from the time of Pangaea onwards, which palaeomagnetism alone does not reveal. This together with new methods to estimate true polar wander have led to hybrid mantle plate motion frames that demonstrate that TUZO and JASON, two antipodal thermochemical piles in the deep mantle, have been stable for at least 300 Ma, and where deep plumes sourcing large igneous provinces and kimberlites are mostly derived from their margins. This remarkable observation has led to the plume generation zone reconstruction method which exploits the fundamental link between surface and deep mantle processes to allow determination of palaeolongitudes, unlocking a way forward in modelling absolute plate motions prior to the assembly of Pangaea. The plume generation zone method is a novel way to derive ‘absolute’ plate motions in a mantle reference frame before Pangaea, but the technique assumes that the margins of TUZO and JASON did not move much and that Earth was a degree-2 planet, as today.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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