A plate tectonic model for the Paleozoic and Mesozoic constrained by dynamic plate boundaries and restored synthetic oceanic isochrons
We developed a plate tectonic model for the Paleozoic and Mesozoic (Ordovician to Cretaceous) integrating dynamic plate boundaries, plate buoyancy, ocean spreading rates and major tectonic and magmatic events. Plates were constructed through time by adding/removing oceanic material, symbolized by synthetic isochrons, to major continents and terranes. Driving forces like slab pull and slab buoyancy were used to constrain the evolution of paleo-oceanic domains. This approach offers good control of sea-floor spreading and plate kinematics. This new method represents a distinct departure from classical continental drift reconstructions, which are not constrained, due to the lack of plate boundaries. This model allows a more comprehensive analysis of the development of the Tethyan realm in space and time. In particular, the relationship between the Variscan and the Cimmerian cycles in the Mediterranean-Alpine realm is clearly illustrated by numerous maps. For the Alpine cycle, the relationship between the Alpides senso stricto and the Tethysides is also explicable in terms of plate tectonic development of the Alpine Tethys-Atlantic domain versus the NeoTethys domain.