AGU Grand Challenges: Tectonic Processes & Lithospheric Effects

How can we understand the evolution of Earth over time periods from seconds to thousands of millions of years, and from the scale of atoms to mountain belts? Low-temperature thermochronometry methods are transforming our ability to date Earth surface evolution and quantify the thermal evolution of rocks through time. There are a range of applications for this information with direct societal relevance. (Tectonics)


How did Earth’s continents form, and why are we alone among the terrestrial planets of the solar system in having them? Advances in observational, analytical, and modeling research may help us solve this unresolved question. It also takes on new significance in our present era of exoplanet discovery. (JGR: Solid Earth)


What properties make a tectonic plate “plate-like”? Geophysical, geochemical, experimental, and geological techniques are all being used to better understand tectonic plates. Such advances are necessary since plate tectonics is the theoretical framework that describes everything from the formation of the continents billions of years ago to natural disasters such as volcanos today. (JGR: Solid Earth)


What role does magmatism play in the dynamic interaction between processes at Earth’s surface and in the deep Earth? A better understanding of magmatism could provide insights into the climatic, tectonic and erosional history of the Earth, and the functioning of the Earth system as a whole. (JGR: Solid Earth)


What are the interactions between mechanical and chemical processes in rocks? A better understanding of this coupling is relevant for a range of processes that may impact our society such as earthquakes triggered by fluid injection in the Earth’s crust, subsurface carbon storage, natural hydrogen production, and the exploration of geothermal fields and ore deposits. (JGR: Solid Earth)

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