Abstract View

Volume 22 Issue 4 (April/May 2012)

GSA Today

Bookmark and Share

Article, pp. 4-9 | Full Text | PDF (3.5MB)

An open-source software environment for visualizing and refining plate tectonic reconstructions using high-resolution geological and geophysical data sets

Search GoogleScholar for

Search GSA Today


Simon E. Williams*, R. Dietmar Müller, Thomas C.W. Landgrebe, Joanne M. Whittaker*

Earthbyte Group, School of Geosciences, Madsen Building F09, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia


We describe a powerful method to explore spatio-temporal relationships within geological and geophysical data sets by analyzing the data within the context of tectonic reconstructions. GPlates is part of a new generation of plate reconstruction software that incorporates functionality familiar from GIS software with the added dimension of geological time. Here we use GPlates to reconstruct geological terranes, geophysical grids, and paleomagnetic data within alternative tectonic models of the assembly of Western Australia and the configuration of Rodinia. With the ability to rapidly visualize a diverse range of geological and geophysical constraints within different reconstructions, users can easily investigate the implications of different tectonic models for reconciling a variety of observations and make more informed choices between different models and data.


Manuscript received 23 Sept. 2011; accepted 7 Feb. 2012.

DOI: 10.1130/GSATG139A.1