Tag Archives: tectonic plates

Mapping the seafloor from space

We know more about the topography of Mars than that of Earth because 70 per cent of our planet is covered by water.

Kara Matthews has mapped the seafloor using satellite data and software. Credit: Kara Matthews

Now University of Sydney PhD student Kara Matthews has used satellite data and GPlates, a computer package developed at the University, to create a complete digital map of the many geological features of the seafloor.

Fracture zones—the orange lines in the accompanying image—are deep linear scars on the seafloor that extend perpendicular to the boundaries where tectonic plates are moving apart, revealing up to 150 million years of plate movement. They are accompanied by huge ridges on the seafloor, rising up to 2 km above the abyssal plains, and valleys as deep as 8 km below sea level.
Continue reading Mapping the seafloor from space

Slide back in time and see the Himalayas form

Researchers in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney have developed a computer package that lets scientists record and study the Earth over geological time.

GPlates moves geology into the fourth dimension
GPlates image showing topography (left) and predicted temperature 300 km below surface (right) as India moves towards the Eurasian continent 60mya. Credit: Sabin Zahirovic, EarthByte

Their GPlates software, which they describe as “Google Earth with a time-slider,” contains powerful tools for modelling geological processes. Yet it is simple enough to use in schools or at home, and is freely available. By combining data on continental motion, fossils and sediments, for example, scientists can analyse changes in geography, ocean currents and climate over geological time.
Continue reading Slide back in time and see the Himalayas form