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Plate Reconstruction 
Methodology: 
Ways to check reconstruction quality 
Bruce Eglington
Geodynamic setting 
Rock Class 
Age limits 
GIS code 
Domain 
DateView 
Geochronology Lithostratigraphy Tectonic LIP Economic 
Unit Unit Domain LIP Deposit 
Material 
Isotope system 
Interpretation 
Age 
Location 
Reference 
Domain 
LIP 
Metamorphism 
Deformation 
Age limits 
Metph. Grade 
Clan 
Commodities 
Age limits 
Info. source 
Domain 
Locality 
Size 
Morphol. 
Rating 
Age limits 
Unit 
Locality 
References 
StratDB 
ESRI Geodatabase 
Polygons Lines 
Plates 
PlateID 
Name 
Age limits 
Locality 
Dykes 
SwarmID 
Name 
Age limits 
Locality 
Units 
MapID 
GIS ID
Sedimentary depositional environment at the time 
of the global Marinoan glaciation 
Li et al (2013)
Palaeoproterozoic large C isotope excursion at ~2200 
Ma, shortly after Great Oxidation Event 
Martin et al (2013)
H Bay 
Elu 
Athabasca 
Thelon
Reconstructions 
<~ 170 Ma 
• Hotspots 
• Oceanic plates 
and ‘magnetic 
stripes’ 
• Palaeomagnetics 
• Plate extent and 
geometry 
• Vergence 
directions 
• Igneous activity 
• Metamorphic 
activity 
• Sediment 
characteristics 
Reconstructions 
in Precambrian 
• Palaeomagnetics 
• Plate extent and 
geometry 
• Vergence 
directions 
• Igneous activity 
• Metamorphic 
activity 
• Sediment 
characteristics 
Variable Latitude control, 
longitude require assumptions 
Sparse data 
Latitude and Longitude control 
Lots of data
Conventional approach to model development using APWP 
Li et al. (2008)
Model palaeolatitude for a point in the centre of the Abitibi plate
Palaeolatitude for various palaeomagnetic poles in the Abitibi plate
Palaeolatitude for poles from other plates fixed relative to Abitibi
Other ways to assess a plate 
model 
Palaeolatitude of the VGP 
Palaeo-azimuth of the VGP
VGP palaeolatitude ~85 degrees N 
VGP palaeolatitude ~0 degrees 
Example using two poles 
for Dominica at about 44 Ma 
VGP palaeolatitude should be close to +/- 90 degrees
VGP palaeo-azimuth ~+3 degrees 
VGP palaeo-azimuth should be close to 0 degrees
VGP palaeo-azimuth ~-90 degrees 
VGP palaeo-azimuth should be close to 0 degrees
Abitibi example – palaeolatitude 
Model is not yet developed 
prior to ~2100 Ma
Abitibi example – palaeo-azimuth 
Model is not yet developed 
prior to ~2100 Ma
Abitibi example – palaeolatitude and palaeo-azimuth 
Model is not yet developed 
prior to ~2100 Ma
Abitibi example – reconstructpalaeolatitude and palaeo-azimuth 
Model is not yet developed 
prior to ~2100 Ma
Plate orientation expressed as azimuth 
Centroid 
Point north of centroid 
Azimuth of line from 
centroid to point 
Present day
Plate orientation expressed as azimuth 
Centroid 
Point north of centroid 
Azimuth of line from 
centroid to point 
Azimuth changes with 
changing orientation 
of the plate 
Present day 
Reconstructed plate
Abitibi example – changes in plate azimuth with time 
S 
E 
N 
W 
S
Rodinia and Pangaea palaeolongitude 
Mitchell et al. (2011)
Palaeolongitude constraints 
Pangaea Rodinia
Modelled palaeolongitude
Model plate velocity
Siberia as an example 
Similar orientation 
to present 
Li et al. (2013)
Siberia as an example 
Palaeolatitude 
Plate azimuth
Siberia as an example 
Siberia needs to be upside down
Li et al. (2008) 
Geodynamically realistic plate 
motions through time 
530 Ma 
rotated 
550 Ma 
rotated 
600 Ma 
Not rotated
Li et al. (2008) 
Geodynamically realistic plate 
motions through time 
1000 Ma 
N India faces east 
1050 Ma 
N India faces east 
1100 Ma 
N India faces west
Geodynamically realistic plate motions through time 
Li et al. (2013)
Urals 
Kazakhstan 
Complex fold 
structures 
represented by 
semi-rectangular 
blocks 
Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
Unfolding the 
oroclines 
Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
Long, semi-linear arcs strongly 
influence the geometry of 
permissible plate motions for 
other plates 
Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
Long, semi-linear arcs strongly 
influence the geometry of 
permissible plate motions for 
other plates 
Several major oroclines in the 
Early Palaeozoic are important 
when trying to reconstruct 
the breakup of Rodinia 
Sengor and Natal’in (1996)

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Plate Reconstruction Methodology; Ways to Check Reconstruction Quality by Bruce Eglington, University of Saskatchewan - 2014 PaleoGIS & PaleoClimate Users Conference

  • 1. Plate Reconstruction Methodology: Ways to check reconstruction quality Bruce Eglington
  • 2. Geodynamic setting Rock Class Age limits GIS code Domain DateView Geochronology Lithostratigraphy Tectonic LIP Economic Unit Unit Domain LIP Deposit Material Isotope system Interpretation Age Location Reference Domain LIP Metamorphism Deformation Age limits Metph. Grade Clan Commodities Age limits Info. source Domain Locality Size Morphol. Rating Age limits Unit Locality References StratDB ESRI Geodatabase Polygons Lines Plates PlateID Name Age limits Locality Dykes SwarmID Name Age limits Locality Units MapID GIS ID
  • 3. Sedimentary depositional environment at the time of the global Marinoan glaciation Li et al (2013)
  • 4. Palaeoproterozoic large C isotope excursion at ~2200 Ma, shortly after Great Oxidation Event Martin et al (2013)
  • 5. H Bay Elu Athabasca Thelon
  • 6. Reconstructions <~ 170 Ma • Hotspots • Oceanic plates and ‘magnetic stripes’ • Palaeomagnetics • Plate extent and geometry • Vergence directions • Igneous activity • Metamorphic activity • Sediment characteristics Reconstructions in Precambrian • Palaeomagnetics • Plate extent and geometry • Vergence directions • Igneous activity • Metamorphic activity • Sediment characteristics Variable Latitude control, longitude require assumptions Sparse data Latitude and Longitude control Lots of data
  • 7. Conventional approach to model development using APWP Li et al. (2008)
  • 8. Model palaeolatitude for a point in the centre of the Abitibi plate
  • 9. Palaeolatitude for various palaeomagnetic poles in the Abitibi plate
  • 10. Palaeolatitude for poles from other plates fixed relative to Abitibi
  • 11. Other ways to assess a plate model Palaeolatitude of the VGP Palaeo-azimuth of the VGP
  • 12. VGP palaeolatitude ~85 degrees N VGP palaeolatitude ~0 degrees Example using two poles for Dominica at about 44 Ma VGP palaeolatitude should be close to +/- 90 degrees
  • 13. VGP palaeo-azimuth ~+3 degrees VGP palaeo-azimuth should be close to 0 degrees
  • 14. VGP palaeo-azimuth ~-90 degrees VGP palaeo-azimuth should be close to 0 degrees
  • 15.
  • 16. Abitibi example – palaeolatitude Model is not yet developed prior to ~2100 Ma
  • 17. Abitibi example – palaeo-azimuth Model is not yet developed prior to ~2100 Ma
  • 18. Abitibi example – palaeolatitude and palaeo-azimuth Model is not yet developed prior to ~2100 Ma
  • 19. Abitibi example – reconstructpalaeolatitude and palaeo-azimuth Model is not yet developed prior to ~2100 Ma
  • 20. Plate orientation expressed as azimuth Centroid Point north of centroid Azimuth of line from centroid to point Present day
  • 21. Plate orientation expressed as azimuth Centroid Point north of centroid Azimuth of line from centroid to point Azimuth changes with changing orientation of the plate Present day Reconstructed plate
  • 22. Abitibi example – changes in plate azimuth with time S E N W S
  • 23. Rodinia and Pangaea palaeolongitude Mitchell et al. (2011)
  • 27. Siberia as an example Similar orientation to present Li et al. (2013)
  • 28. Siberia as an example Palaeolatitude Plate azimuth
  • 29. Siberia as an example Siberia needs to be upside down
  • 30. Li et al. (2008) Geodynamically realistic plate motions through time 530 Ma rotated 550 Ma rotated 600 Ma Not rotated
  • 31. Li et al. (2008) Geodynamically realistic plate motions through time 1000 Ma N India faces east 1050 Ma N India faces east 1100 Ma N India faces west
  • 32. Geodynamically realistic plate motions through time Li et al. (2013)
  • 33.
  • 34. Urals Kazakhstan Complex fold structures represented by semi-rectangular blocks Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
  • 35. Unfolding the oroclines Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
  • 36. Long, semi-linear arcs strongly influence the geometry of permissible plate motions for other plates Sengor and Natal’in (1996)
  • 37. Long, semi-linear arcs strongly influence the geometry of permissible plate motions for other plates Several major oroclines in the Early Palaeozoic are important when trying to reconstruct the breakup of Rodinia Sengor and Natal’in (1996)