March 30, 2012

New Advances In Plate Reconstruction: Earthbyte Group Presents GPlates

The April/May GSA Today science article is now online at In this issue, Simon Williams and colleagues from the Earthbyte Group of the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney present GPlates, a powerful new method for analyzing geological and geophysical data sets 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. By enabling the user to rapidly visualize a diverse range of geological and geophysical constraints within different tectonic reconstructions, the implications of different tectonic models for reconciling a variety of observations can be investigated with ease, allowing more informed choices to be made between different models and data. To illustrate the application of this software, the authors explore alternative tectonic models for the assembly of Western Australia and the configuration of Rodinia by using GPlates to reconstruct geological terranes, geophysical grids, and paleomagnetic data relevant to the reconstructions.

An open-source software environment for visualizing and refining plate tectonic reconstructions using high-resolution geological and geophysical data sets
Simon E. Williams et al., University of Sydney, Earthbyte Group, Madsen Building F09, School of Geosciences, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia. Pages 4-9, doi: 10.1130/GSATG139A.1.

GSA Today is The Geological Society of America´s science and news magazine for members and other earth scientists. Refereed lead science articles present exciting new research or synthesize important issues in a format understandable to all in the earth science community. GSA Today often features a refereed "Groundwork" article — tightly focused papers on issues of import to earth science policy, planning, funding, or education.  All GSA Today articles are open access at


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