Secular change of true polar wander over the past billion years

Fu, Hairuo; Zhang, Shihong; Condon, Daniel J.; Xian, Hanbiao. 2022 Secular change of true polar wander over the past billion years. Science Advances, 8 (41), 2753.

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The rate of movement of Earth’s solid shell relative to its spin axis, or true polar wander, depends on variations in mantle convection and viscosity. We report paleomagnetic and geochronologic data from South China that constrain the rate of rapid true polar wander (>5° per million years) between 832 million years and 821 million years ago. Analysis of the paleomagnetic database demonstrates secular change of true polar wander related to mantle cooling and thermal structure across supercontinent cycles. True polar wander rates are relatively muted with a partially insulated mantle during supercontinent assembly and accelerate as mantle thermal mixing reestablishes with supercontinent breakup. Decreasing true polar wander rate through the Neoproterozoic was succeeded by overall smaller variations in the Phanerozoic. We propose that Neoproterozoic extensive plate tectonic activities enhanced mantle cooling, giving rise to a reduction in mantle convective forcing, an increase in mantle viscosity, and a decrease in true polar wander rates into the Phanerozoic.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2375-2548
Date made live: 23 Nov 2022 16:02 +0 (UTC)

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