Geologists may have encountered a long lost tectonic plate


The existence of a tectonic plate called Resurrection has long been disputed among geophysicists. Some believe it never existed, while others say it was subducted into the mantle somewhere in the Pacific Ocean 40 to 60 million years ago.

A new study by the University of Houston’s School of Natural Science and Mathematics sheds light on this matter and suggests that the resurrection plate existed. Scientists believe they have found the remains of the missing Resurrection Plate in northern Canada, which were crushed, transformed and buried by subduction processes.

For this study, scientists used a technique called plate splitting, developed by the University of Hawaii’s Center for Tectonics and Tomography, to reconstruct what plate tectonics in the Pacific Ocean looked like at the beginning of the Cenozoic.

The Earth’s rigid outer layer, the lithosphere, is breaking down into plate tectonics, and geologists have always known that there were two plates in the Pacific Ocean at that time, called Kula and Farallon. However, a possible third plate, the resurrection, has been discussed and has formed a unique volcanic belt together with Alaska and Washington State.

According to the scientists, this study could help geologists to predict volcanic hazards and mineral and hydrocarbon deposits.

Spencer Fuston, a third-year doctoral student in geology, said, “We believe we have direct evidence of the existence of the Resurrection Plate. We are also trying to resolve a debate and advocate which side supports our data.

Using the 3-D mapping technique, the scientists applied the plate unfolding technique to mantle tomography images to remove the subduced plates before they could unfold and stretch them into their original shapes.


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