plate tectonics Archives - State of the Planet

Walter Pitman: Discovered a Key to Plate Tectonics

Walter Pitman, a seagoing geophysicist who spotted a crucial piece of a huge puzzle that revolutionized the earth sciences, has died.

by |October 2, 2019

A Seismologist Present at the Discovery of Plate Tectonics

Lynn Sykes, a pivotal figure in the development of plate tectonics, discusses a new memoir of his career.

by |June 6, 2019

Photo Essay: On an Island, a Lost Part of the World Is Found

On the volcanic Indian Ocean island of Anjouan, scientists are investigating a rock that apparently formed on a far-off continent.

by |February 12, 2019

On a Remote Island, a Lost Part of the World Is Found

On a small volcanic island in the Indian Ocean lies a geologic enigma—a mass of pure white quartzite sandstone apparently formed on a faraway continent long ago. How did it get there?

by |February 12, 2019
lynn sykes portrait

Renowned Seismologist Lynn Sykes Receives Honorary Doctorate from Columbia University

Sykes helped to establish plate tectonic theory in the 1960s. He is professor emeritus at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

by |April 6, 2018

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