Spreading-aligned absolute plate motion reference frame
In Becker et al. (2015), we argue
that optimizing the match of absolute plate motions to spreading
orientations provides for an improved absolute plate motion (APM)
reference frame that can satisfy a number of constraints, including hotspot
motions, and matches azimuthal anisotropy very well. Its net rotation
amount is also broadly consistent with geodynamic estimates (e.g.,
This new, spreading-aligned plate motion reference frame can be
computed by adding a net rotation with Euler pole of 63.9E, 61.2S,
0.277 deg/Myr to a no-net-rotation (NNR) model. For our study, we
used the NNR-MORVEL56 velocities of Argus et al. (2011).
Trench motions and slab rollback
Among the predictions of the new spreading-aligned APM model are a
clearer separation of relative trench motions, as shown for
Heuret and Lallemand (2005) rollback/advance
estimates in the new reference frame (blue = advancing, red =
retreating trench wrt. subducting plate).
Also see the discussion of
reference frames for trench motions in
Becker and Faccenna (2009).
Here is the original data from
Heuret and Lallemand's
(2005) compilation of trench motions at
and when their trench motions are rotated into different reference frames:
Those two are plotted on this map:
Plate velocity model grids
For convenience, we here also provide global GMT/Netcdf .grd files
with East and North velocities for the original velocities in NNR,
and when moved into our spreading-aligned reference frame.
Original NNR version of NNR-MORVEL56 (Argus et al., 2011)
Spreading-aligned reference frame velocities of Becker et al. (2015)
- Argus, D. F., R. G. Gordon, and C. DeMets (2011), Geologically
current motion of 56 plates relative to the no-net-rotation reference
frame, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 12, Q11001,
- Becker, T. W., Schaeffer, A. J., Lebedev, S., and
Conrad, C. P.: Toward a generalized plate motion reference frame.
Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL063695, 3188-3196,
- Heuret, A., and S. Lallemand (2005), Plate motions, slab dynamics
and back-arc deformation, Earth Planet. Inter., 149, 31–51.