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A probabilistic framework for assessing polar wander – Constraining paleolongitude in deep time
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 101025975 Call for proposal: H2020-MSCA-IF-2020
Funded under: H2020 | MSCA-IF-EF-ST Overall Budget: 214,159 EURFunder Contribution: 214,159 EUR

The quantification of past plate motions is of paramount importance to advancing our understanding of Earth’s evolution. Plate motions of the last ~130 Ma are well-resolved from magnetic isochrons and hotspot tracks, but as those records are progressively destroyed by subduction, they cannot be used in deeper time. Before 130 Ma, plate motions can only be quantified through the study of paleomagnetism, but analytical limitations have so-far prevented us from using this tool to its full potential. For example, owing to the axial symmetry of the Earth’s magnetic field, the determination of paleolongitude from paleomagnetic data –although theoretically possible– has long been considered an intractable problem. TANGO will capitalize on this untapped potential through an innovative and cross-disciplinary approach integrating modern data-science techniques into paleomagnetic research, thereby opening a new research frontier. Aiming to contribute towards the neglected issue of paleomagnetic precision, I will focus on state-of-the-art computer-intensive statistical methods to provide the conceptual basis for a much needed probabilistic framework for paleomagnetic research. These efforts will allow me to provide paleogeographic reconstructions with uncertainty estimates for the first time. With that framework, through application of unsupervised learning methods, I will also be able to tackle the outstanding problem of paleolongitude determination in deep geologic time, which remains one of the most important challenges in modern geophysics. Such novel and quantitative methods development is strongly complementary to the core research efforts at CEED (University of Oslo) to explore the missing links between plate tectonics and mantle evolution. In this pursuit, TANGO will reinforce the international and multidisciplinary dimension of my early stage career and will allow the European Union to remain at the cutting-edge of paleomagnetic and tectonic-related research.

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