plate tectonics Archives - State of the Planet

Expedition Explores Undersea Rift off Greece

The Corinth rift is one of the most seismically active areas in Europe. Starting this month, researchers will drill into the rift to discover its past and future.

by |October 19, 2017

Learning from Slow-Slip Earthquakes

Off the coast of New Zealand, there is an area where earthquakes can happen in slow-motion as two tectonic plates grind past one another. These slow-slip events create an ideal lab for studying fault behavior along the shallow portion of subduction zones.

by |December 15, 2016

New Study Upends a Theory of How Earth’s Mantle Flows

A new study carried out on the floor of Pacific Ocean provides the most detailed view yet of how the earth’s mantle flows beneath the ocean’s tectonic plates.

by |July 6, 2016
The Eltanin 19 profile, showing the symmetry of magnetic reversals on either side of a mid-ocean ridge, launched the plate tectonics revolution at what was then Lamont Geological Observatory.

The Plate Tectonics Revolution: It Was All About the Data

The young scientists who led the plate tectonics revolution 50 years ago showed how asking the right questions and having access to a wide range of shared data could open doors to an entirely new understanding of our planet.

by |May 24, 2016

Walter Pitman and the Smoking Gun of Plate Tectonics

“We had this magic key, this magic magnetic profile,” Pitman said. “We were able to date it and eventually use it not only as a tool that proved continental drift but a tool by which we could actually reconstruct the pattern of drift, that is the relative position of the continents, and the actual timing of the separation of the continents.”

by |April 20, 2016

Top Seismology Award Goes to Pioneer in Rock Mechanics: Christopher Scholz

For his pioneering work in rock mechanics and his skill at communicating earthquake science, Scholz is being honored on April 20 by the Seismological Society of America with its top award, the Harry Fielding Reid Medal.

by |April 20, 2016

The Floor of the Ocean Comes into Better Focus

The bottom of the ocean just keeps getting better. Or at least more interesting to look at.

by |January 7, 2016
Subduction zone mechanics

Ancient Faults & Water Are Sparking Earthquakes Off Alaska

Ancient faults that formed in the ocean floor millions of years ago are feeding earthquakes today along stretches of the Alaska Peninsula, and likely elsewhere, a new study suggests.

by |November 16, 2015
Sea floor spreading chart by Jean-Arthur Olive

Climate Change Leaves Its Mark on the Sea Floor? Maybe Not

A new study in Science questions the provocative idea that climate change may shape the texture of the sea floor. A Snickers bar helps explain what’s really going on.

by |October 15, 2015

Come Aboard: A Look at the R/V Marcus Langseth

A new video produced by Columbia University tells the story of what the research vessel Marcus G. Langseth is all about.

by |October 15, 2015