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Australian Plate

The onset of seafloor spreading west of Australia at ~130 Ma marks the breakup between India
and Australia. Roughly at the same time subdu!tion east of Australia !eased. The break between
Australia and Antar!ti!a was the last e"ent in the #ondwana breakup. It began about $0 million
years ago when a deep rift "alley formed along the southern edge of Australia% this widened to
form the present &outhern '!ean. &in!e then Australia has been mo"ing steadily north at the rate
of about ( !m per year. )rior to *3 million yhears ago a triple +un!tion formed north of the Ross
&ea a!!ommodating motion between ,ast and -est Antar!ti!a. At the same time spreading
between India and Australia !eased and the northward motion of Australia a!!elerated as it
separated from Antar!ti!a. The &outheast Indian Ridge now !ompletely separated the Australian
and Antar!ti! )lates. At the same time spreading between India and Australia !eased and
subdu!tion north of )apua .ew #uinea was initiated.
Ma+or plate te!toni! e"ents sin!e the early Mio!ene /~00 Ma1 in!lude the breakup of the Indo2
Australian plate and "arious !ollisional pro!esses and plate boundary reorgani3ations north and
east of Australia. The se!tor of o!eani! !rust !ontaining Ma!4uarie Island between Tasman &ea
o!eani! !rust and !ontinental !rust of the 5ampbell )lateau was generated from 36 to 10.(
million years ago at the )roto2Ma!4uarie &preading Ridge that propagated from the
)a!ifi!7Antar!ti! spreading ridge. The )roto2Ma!4uarie &preading Ridge e"ol"ed with time from
long ridge segments of ..,2trend to short ridge segments of ,2trend in the "i!inity of
Ma!4uarie Island and generated during the latest episodes of seafloor spreading. The o"erall
trend of the )roto2Ma!4uarie &preading Ridge was ..,2&&- throughout and roughly !oin!ided
with the present dayMa!4uarie Ridge. )late re!onstru!tions suggest !oin!ident seafloor
spreading and strike2slip mo"ements at the )roto2Ma!4uarie &preading Ridge between 1* and
10.( Ma. The present day Australian7)a!ifi! plate margin is !oin!ident with the Ma!4uarie
Ridge an ar!uate 0100 km long !rustal fra!ture system !onne!ting the )a!ifi!7Antar!ti! and
Indo2Australian7Antar!ti! spreading ridges with the Alpine 8ault system in .ew 9ealand.
:ol!anoes in .ew 9ealand result from the subdu!tion of the )a!ifi! )late under the Australian
)late. &outh of the .orth Island the te!toni! boundary between the Indian2Australian and )a!ifi!
plates !hanges to a transform fault. .ew 9ealand straddles the boundary of the Australian and
)a!ifi! plates. Along .ew 9ealand the Australian plate mo"es to the northeast at a rate of 3( to
*( mm7yr relati"e to the )a!ifi! plate. In the !entral &outh Island this plate motion results in
predominantly strike2slip mo"ement along the Alpine 8ault. In southwestern &outh Island
relati"e plate motion is a!!ommodated by obli4ue subdu!tion of the Australian plate along the
)uysegur tren!h and deformation of the o"erriding )a!ifi! plate inland of the tren!h. The
&outhern Alps of .ew 9ealand result from this obli4ue plate !on"ergen!e.
Eurasian Plate
is a te!toni! plate whi!h in!ludes most of the !ontinent of ,urasia /a landmass !onsisting of the
traditional !ontinents of ,urope and Asia1 with the notable e;!eptions of the Indian sub!ontinent
the Arabian sub!ontinent and the area east of the 5hersky Range in ,ast &iberia. It also
in!ludes o!eani! !rust e;tending westward to the Mid2Atlanti! Ridge and northward to the #akkel
The eastern side is a boundary with the .orth Ameri!an )late to the north and a boundary with
the )hilippine &ea )late to the south and possibly with the 'khotsk )late and the Amurian )late. The
southerly side is a boundary with the Afri!an )late to the west the Arabian )late in the middle and
the Indo2Australian )late to the east. The westerly side is a di"ergent boundary with the .orth
Ameri!an )late forming the northernmost part of the Mid2Atlanti! Ridge whi!h is straddled byI!eland.
The 16<3 eruption of ,ldfell the "ol!ano of the I!elandi! island =eimaey !aused by the .orth
Ameri!an and the ,urasian plates mo"ing apart is a result of di"ergent plate boundary for!es.
The geodynami!s of !entral Asia is dominated by the intera!tion between the .orth ,urasia and India
)lates. In this area many subplates or !rust blo!ks ha"e been re!ogni3ed. These subplates or !rust blo!ks
form the 5entral Asian transit 3one and the ,ast Asian transit 3one.
North American Plate
a te!toni! plate !o"ering most of .orth Ameri!a #reenland 5uba >ahamas and parts
of &iberia I!eland and the A3ores. It e;tends eastward to the Mid2Atlanti! Ridge and westward
to the 5hersky Range in eastern &iberia. The plate in!ludes both !ontinental and o!eani! !rust.
The interior of the main !ontinental landmass in!ludes an e;tensi"e graniti! !ore !alled a !raton.
Along most of the edges of this !raton are fragments of !rustal material !alled terranes a!!reted
to the !raton by te!toni! a!tions o"er the long span of geologi! time. It is belie"ed that mu!h of
.orth Ameri!a west of the Ro!kies is !omposed of su!h terranes.
South American Plate
a !ontinental te!toni! plate whi!h in!ludes the !ontinent of &outh Ameri!a and also a si3eable region
of the Atlanti! '!ean seabed e;tending eastward to the Mid2Atlanti! Ridge.
The easterly side is a di"ergent boundary with the Afri!an )late forming the southern part of the Mid2
Atlanti! Ridge. The southerly side is a !omple; boundary with the Antar!ti! )late and the &!otia
)late. The westerly side is a !on"ergent boundary with the subdu!ting .a3!a )late. The northerly side
is a boundary with the 5aribbean )late and the o!eani! !rust of the .orth Ameri!an )late. At
the 5hile Triple ?un!tion in Taitato2Tres Montes )eninsula an o!eani! ridge @ the 5hile Rise @ is
subdu!ting under the &outh Ameri!an plate.
The &outh Ameri!an )late is in motion mo"ing westward away from the Mid2Atlanti! Ridge. The
eastward2mo"ing and more dense .a3!a )late is subdu!ting under the western edge of the &outh
Ameri!an )late along the )a!ifi! !oast of the !ontinent at a rate of << mm per year.
This !ollision of
plates is responsible for lifting the massi"e Andes Mountains and !ausing the "ol!anoes whi!h are
strewn throughout them.
Pacific Plate
an o!eani! te!toni! plate that lies beneath the )a!ifi! '!ean. At 10( million s4uare kilometres it is the
largest te!toni! plate.
The north2eastern side is a di"ergent boundary with the ,;plorer )late the ?uan de 8u!a )late and
the #orda )late forming respe!ti"ely the ,;plorer Ridge the ?uan de 8u!a Ridge and the #orda
Ridge. In the middle of the eastern side is atransform boundary with the .orth Ameri!an )late along
the &an Andreas 8ault and a boundary with the 5o!os )late. The south2eastern side is a di"ergent
boundary with the .a3!a )late forming the ,ast )a!ifi! Rise.
The southern side is a di"ergent boundary with the Antar!ti! )late forming the )a!ifi!2Antar!ti!
The western side the plate is bounded by the 'khotsk )late at the Curil2Cam!hatka Tren!h and
the ?apan Tren!h forms a!on"ergent boundary by subdu!ting under the )hilippine &ea
)late !reating the Mariana Tren!h has a transform boundarywith the 5aroline )late and has a
!ollision boundary with the .orth >ismar!k )late.
In the south2west the )a!ifi! )late has a !omple; but generally !on"ergent boundary with the Indo2
Australian )late subdu!ting under it north of .ew 9ealand forming the Tonga Tren!h and
the Cermade! Tren!h. The Alpine 8ault marks atransform boundary between the two plates and
further south the Indo2Australian )late subdu!ts under the )a!ifi! )late forming the )uysegur Tren!h.
The southern part of 9ealandia whi!h is to the east of this boundary is the plateDs largest blo!k of
!ontinental !rust.
The northern side is a !on"ergent boundary subdu!ting under the .orth Ameri!an )late forming
the Aleutian Tren!h and the !orresponding Aleutian Islands.
The )a!ifi! )late !ontains an interior hot spot forming the =awaiian Islands.
=illis and MEller are reported to !onsider the >irdDs =ead )late to be mo"ing in unison with the )a!ifi!