Rice University

Events at Rice


Earth Science

Speaker: Robert Stern
U T Texas at Dallas

Spring 2017 Current Research in Earth Science: Evolution of Plate Tectonics

Thursday, April 6, 2017
4:00 PM  to 5:00 PM

100  Keith-Wiess Geological Laboratories
Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

Plate tectonics is the central theory explaining how the solid Earth behaves today. The outer thermal boundary layer – the lithosphere – is fragmented into 7 major plates and many more smaller plates, all of which move independently. We understand plate kinematics very well and plate dynamics reasonably well, but there is no consensus in the geoscientific community about how or when Earth’ present tectonic style came into being. We do know that Earth is the only solid body in our solar system with plate tectonics, so plate tectonics is clearly an unusual way for a silicate body to behave. This presentation will explore the evolution of plate tectonics. We will first discuss what plate tectonics is, then briefly discuss why it is important to understand the evolution of plate tectonics. We will then consider the highly contentious question of when plate tectonics began before turning to new areas of exploration: how did plate tectonics begin?; and what came before plate tectonics? The presentation is aimed at all levels of geoscientists, and non-geoscientists may also enjoy it.

Biography of Robert Stern: http://www.utdallas.edu/geosciences/faculty/stern.html

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