The forces driving the plates: constraints from kinematics and stress observations

D. M. Jurdy, M. Stefanick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Plate kinematics and stress observations are used to assess the nature and relative magnitudes of the forces driving the plates. A torque balance model is used to describe the evolution of plate dynamics over the Cenozoic Era for reconstructions of plate geometry and velocities. Torques have been fairly stable for the past 64 Ma; the misfit to the model systematically increases for earlier times, most likely due to errors in the locations of past convergent plate boundaries and velocities. Unlike kinematics, which integrates the forces acting on a plate, the stress field responds locally and can differentiate between models for forces. Stress models which incorporate the forces are compared with stress orientations for the North and South American plates. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-139
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophical Transactions - Royal Society of London, A
Issue number1645
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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