Current Research in EEPS Seminar: Dr. Lijun Liu – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dynamic evolution of continental lithosphere – Insight from data-oriented geodynamic modeling
Continents are long-lived tectonic units at Earth’s surface. The general wisdom is that continental lithosphere is buoyant and strong and thus could have survived the underlying mantle dynamics over the geological history. However, increasing number of studies suggest that this is not the case and that continental lithosphere has likely been evolving since its formation. Here using several examples, I show that continental lithosphere always responds to and sometimes participate in deep mantle dynamics. Notable examples include the dramatic topographic and tectonic transition of the western U.S. since the Cretaceous, lower-lithospheric alteration of the cratonic lithosphere in South America and Africa accompanying the separation of the last supercontinent Pangea, and severe crustal deformation and decratonization within East Asia during the late Mesozoic.