2016 HGS Sheriff Lecture - The Second Half of Plate Tectonics

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Monday, November 7, 2016
Westchase Hilton • 9999 Westheimer
Social Hour 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Dinner 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Cost: $45 pre-registered members; $50 for non-members/ ALL walk-ups (Credit Cards Now Accepted);
$40 for Emeritus/Life/Honorary; $10 for HGS student members if pre-registered and pre-paid.

To guarantee a seat, you must pre-register on the HGS website and pay with a credit card.  You may walk up and pay at the door if extra seats are available.  Please cancel by phone or email within 24 hours before the event for a refund.  Online & pre-registration closes Monday, November 7, 2016, at 5:00 a.m.

Speaker:  John Suppe
University of Houston

The Second Half of Plate Tectonics: Finding the last ~200Ma of subducted lithosphere and incorporating it into plate reconstruction

Tomographic imaging is increasingly being used to explore the Earth from the reservoir scale to the global scale.  Here we show that petroleum 3D interpretation, data integration, and restoration technologies represent powerful resources for making significant discoveries based on modern tomographic imaging.  We illustrated the importance of tomographic data using examples from
[1] global plate tectonics and [2] the structural geology of mountain belts.

Precise plate-tectonic reconstruction of the Earth has been constrained largely by the seafloor magnetic-anomaly record of the present oceans formed during the dispersal of the last supercontinent since ~200Ma. The corresponding world that was lost to subduction, which accounts for ~100% of the surface area of the Earth, has been only sketchily known. We have developed methodologies, largely within a modified Gocad software environment, to map in 3D these subducted slabs of lithosphere in seismic tomography and to unfold them to the Earth surface, constraining their initial size, shapes and locations (Fig. 1). Slab edges are commonly formed at times of plate reorganization (for example bottom edges typically record initiation of subduction) such that unfolded slabs fit together in picture-puzzle fashion at times of reorganization, as we illustrate for the Nazca slab at ~80Ma and the western Pacific slabs between Kamchatka and New Zealand at ~50Ma (see Fig. 2). Mapping to date suggests that a relatively complete and decipherable record of lithosphere subducted over the last ~200Ma may exist in the mantle today, providing a storehouse for new discoveries.


We illustrate our procedure for obtaining slab-constrained plate-tectonic models from tomography with our recent study of the Philippine Sea plate, whose motions and tectonic history have been the least known of the major plates because it has been isolated from the global plate and hotspot circuit by trenches. We mapped and unfolded 28 subducted slabs in the mantle under East Asia and Australia/Oceania to depths of ~1200km, with a subducted area of ~25% of present-day global oceanic lithosphere. We then incorporated them as constraints into a new globally-consistent plate reconstruction of the Philippine Sea and surrounding East Asia, leading to a number of new and unexpected insights, including: [1] discovery of a major (8000 km x 2500 km) set of vanished oceans that we call the East Asia Sea that existed between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, now represented by flat slabs in the lower mantle under present-day Philippine Sea, eastern Sundaland and northern Australia, [3] the Philippine Sea plate collided with the Ryukyu/SW Japan continental margin of Eurasia in arc-arc collision ~20Ma,  and [2] the Philippine Sea nucleated as a small trench back-arc system along the East Asian Sea/Pacific boundary, adjacent to the Manus plume, somewhat analogous to the more recent nucleation of the Bismarck Sea at the same Manus plume.

Tomographic images also represent a major driver of new insight into the structure and tectonics at a finer scale, for example at the scale of mountain belts, particularly when coupled with the resource of petroleum 3D interpretation, data integration, and restoration technologies.  We illustrate this for the Taiwan mountain belt, which is an active arc-continent collision.  Tomographic mapping has led to the discovery of deep rift and continental-margins basins underneath the Taiwan mountain belt (Fig. 3) and has illuminated the unexpected ways in which arc-continent collision and flipping of subduction with reversal of thrust polarity is accomplished in 4D.

Dr. John Suppe is Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.  He also currently holds the positions of Blair Distinguished Professor of Geology Emeritus at Princeton University and Distinguished Chair Professor at National Taiwan University.  He earned his undergraduate degree from University of California Riverside and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1969.  He is an expert in structural geology and global tectonics.







Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences


Jingjing Zong Advanced PhD Elastic properties of rock salt on Earth
Anna Krylova Advanced PhD A Seismic reflection from isotropic fluid-saturated fractured layer
Xin Zhou Advanced Masters Delineating Beach and Dune Morphology from Massive Terrestrial Laser Scanning Data Using the Generic Mapping Tools
Kirstie Haynie Advanced PhD Tectonic Drivers of the Wrangell Block Forearc sliver: Insights from 3D Geodynamic Models
Lin Xiong Advanced PhD Anti-aliasing filters for deriving high-accuracy DEMs from TLS data: a case study from Freeport, Texas
Lian Jiang Advanced PhD Generalized modulus research for Hydrocarbon detection
Elmira Chabyshova Advanced Masters & 1st Year PhD Seismic reflectivity in porous permeable fluid-saturated thin layered media 
Lily Schaffer Advanced PhD New melting models for water provide simple explanation for low seismic velocity in mantle
Wanda Crupa First Year MS Active Tectonic Deformation of Western Indian Plate Boundary: Example from Chaman Fault System
Mohammad Almatrod Undergraduate Mesozoic to Recent, regional tectonic controls on subsidence patterns in the Gulf of Mexico basin
Carolina Ramon-Duenas Advanced PhD Stratigraphic reanalysis of Lower Cretaceous clinoforms in the Alaskan North Slope: slopes, geometries, and clinoform volumes
Lucia Torrado Advanced PhD Seismic characterization of Cretaceous to Recent mass transport complexes in the Foz do Amazonas Basin, Northern Brazil: Implications for future hydrocarbon exploration
Jiaxuan Li Advanced PhD Strong In Situ Anisotropy in Subducting Slabs Revealed by Deep-earthquake Radiation Patterns
Delaney Robinson Advanced PhD "Micromorphologic Analysis for Till Differentiation in the Ross Sea,
Karissa Pepin Undergraduate Rayleigh Wave Phase Velocities in Alaska from Ambient Noise Tomography
Pongthep Thongsang Advanced PhD The Application of Utilizing Wave-Diffracted Oscillation 
John Neese Advanced PhD Electromagnetic Tunnel Detection using a 3D Magnetic Dipole Source
Yuribia Munoz Advanced PhD Seafloor geomorphology of Antarctic Peninsula fjords: a signature of ice flow behavior
Luis Carvajal Advanced PhD Insights of Seaward dipping reflectors and its implications for the deposition of Cretaceous rocks in the Western Caribbean Sea
Rasheed Ajala Undergraduate Predicted versus observed topographic features related to loading of the Niger and Amazon deltas based on gravity and flexural modeling
Sharif Morshed Advanced PhD Stress-dependent rock physics model for multiphase media
Pin Lin Advanced PhD Along-strike, structural-volcanic variations of fossil, late Jurassic, southeastern Gulf of Mexico spreading ridge explained by plate reconstruction of Florida and Yucatan continental blocks
Lei Sun Advanced PhD Fracture Characterization on Virtual Outcrop Model of Mississippian Boone Formation
Jingqiu Huang Advanced PhD Slip Rates of Chaman Fault System, Pakistan
Sabrina Martinez Undergraduate Calculation of Regional Geomorphic Indices to Constrain the Mechanisms of Tectonic Uplift and Active Deformation of the Island of Puerto Rico
Evans Onyango Undergraduate Application of Spaceborne, Airborne and Ground-based Hyperspectral imaging to detect CH4
Yang Wang Advanced PhD Dynamic Young's moduli and Poisson's ratios for VTI medium
Yipeng Li Advanced PhD The metamorphic P-T-t path of Pamir Muztaghata dome
Yuan Tian Advanced PhD Topography-coupled resonance between Mars normal-modes and the tidal force of the Phobos
Andy Liu Advanced PhD Post-breakup Magmatism in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Jessica Chew 1st Year MS Studying P-wave reflections to observe inner core anisotropy
Kenneth Lambert Undergraduate "Thermal and exhumation history of the Uncompahgre Uplift using zircon (U-Th)/He"
Yi-Wei Chen 1st Year PhD Seismic tomographic constraints on plate-tectonic reconstruction of Nazca subduction under South America since late Cretaceous (∼80 Ma) 
Kivanc Biber Advanced PhD Quantitative characterization of a naturally fractured reservoir analog using a hybrid lidar-gigapixel imaging approach
Lili Zhang Undergraduate 'Using contrasting well subsidence histories from conjugate margins of Brazil and Angola as a test of symmetrical vs. asymmetrical rifting, upper and lower plate margins, and later basin inversion events
Suoya Fan Advanced PhD Late Mesozoic Suturing and Crustal Shortening between the Central and Northern Lhasa Terranes, South Tibet
David Lankford-Bravo Undergraduate Location of the continent-ocean boundary “step-up fault” and its influence on passive margin fold belts of the western Gulf of Mexico
Dustin Vilarreal Advanced PhD Assessing pre-Cenozoic shortening in the South Pamir
Luchen Li Advanced PhD Understanding slab-mantle interaction by 3D seismic imaging of reflectivity in the mantle wedge 
Andrew Steier 1st year MS Characterization of the Oxfordian sandstone of the Northern Yucatan and its relation to the Norphlet sandstone of the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico through seismic mapping
Eric Lunn 1st Year PhD Barreirinhas and Ceara Basins of Northern Equatorial Brazil: Upper and Lower Plate Transition Theory Over The Romanche Fracture Zone - A Seismic Study To Determine Structure, Stratigraphy, and Petroleum Potential
Kurt Sundell Advanced PhD Paleoenvironmental change in the Peruvian central Andes recorded by stable isotopes in volcanic glass and modern water: Implications for late Miocene uplift and aridification
Marie Kouassi Undergraduate Regional Comparison of Detrital Zircon populations in pre-rift Carboniferous  and syn-rift Jurassic rocks from the Northern Gulf of Mexico to Northern South America
Macey Crockett Undergraduate A Comparative Hyperspectral Study of Hydrocarbon Seepages Near Uvalde, Texas
Seckin Polat Advanced MS Numerical Modelling for Void Detection by Using Seismic Imaging


November 7th, 2016 5:30 PM   through   7:30 PM
Westchase Hilton
9999 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77042
United States
Event Fee(s)
HGS Member $ 45.00
Non-Member $ 50.00
Emeritus/Life/Honorary $ 40.00
Student $ 10.00
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Contact Steve Getz
Contact Phone 713-304-8503
contact Email sgetz@sbcglobal.net

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