Rigid Plate Model


The Plate Wizard rigid plate model provides:

  • A detailed shapefile representing tectonic blocks on the Earth's crust with full plate definitions including rigid, deformable and oceanic plates.
  • Poles of rotation are supplied back to 440 Ma for all of the plates that are defined in the shapefile. This allows reconstructions at any time interval.

New plate boundary definitions, based on present day geological structures, have been interpreted for the entire globe. Continental crust has been defined as either 'rigid', largely the cratonic interiors or 'deformable'. In the rigid model, the continental plates maintain a constant geometry through geological time.

In reality, lithospheric plates are not rigid, they undergo deformation in extensional and compressional environments. As the present day geometries of these plates are different from their palaeo-geometries, in traditional rigid plate reconstruction models this results in overlap or underfit. In the Plate Wizard deformable model, deformation has been modelled for extensional environments for the entire Atlantic, Southern Australian and Western Indian Ocean margins and the Plate Wizard software uses this modelling to remove the deformation and accurately define the pre-rift geometry of these margins.

Redefining the boundaries

Utilising Robertson's expertise in detailed regional modelling and the wealth of knowledge and information gained from a legacy of regional studies, new plate boundaries have been established for the entire globe.

The methods used to redefine plate boundaries include: analysis of Bouguer gravity anomalies, 3D modelling of crystalline crustal thickness, detailed geological mapping and river drainage analysis. Geophysical data, public domain datasets, and our extensive Tellus datasets (structural elements and total sediment isopach) were also used in this process.

Global Rotation File

The poles of rotation for the tectonic plates in Plate Wizard™ use a fixed mantle hotspot reference frame from 0 to 160 Ma. From 160 to 440 Ma the reference frame is based upon palaeomagnetic data which produces palaeo-latitude and rotational limits for continental motions in to the Palaeozoic.