Lost and Found: the Story of Resurrection, the Missing Tectonic Plate


Resurrection is a tectonic plate that puzzled geologists’ work for decades.

Either the tectonic plate is real or not, the debate among geologists continue nowadays. Some believe Resurrection subducted, while others are more optimistic and come with new details. 

A team of geologists did the impossible by bringing insights into the tectonic plate’s status. 

Here is what you need to know.

Resurrection: a Never-ending Story

A brave and ambitious team of geologists at the University of Houston College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics realized quite the research. Their goal was to solve the debate and advocate for which side their data support. 

They succeeded in finding Resurrection in northern Canada. How they did it?

The team’s work

The geologists used existing mantle tomography data and made quite the discovery!

Wu and Spencer Fuston are third-year geology doctoral students and part of the team. They applied a method designed by the UH Center for Tectonics and Tomography dubbed slab unfolding. They needed to remake what tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean were like in the Cenozoic Era. 

It is known that the lithosphere is shattered into tectonic plates. Two of them, called Farallon and Kula, were in the Pacific Ocean in that era. Some researchers, however, believe a third one existed there, named Resurrection. 

3D mapping tech

The team utilized 3D mapping technology and applied the slab unfolding method to the mantle data to get the subducted plates before unfolding and stretching them to their initial forms.

Wu released a statement discussing the boundaries of Resurrection. He said:

“[…] the boundaries of this ancient Resurrection tectonic plate match well with the ancient volcanic belts in Washington State and Alaska…”

The team believes now that what they found is extremely useful and represent direct proof that the Resurrection plate existed. The findings could help geologists better predict volcanic threats, as well as hydrocarbon and mineral deposits.

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