Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 December 2017
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.