Propagating rifts in GPlates


I was wondering if you can model propagating rifts in GPlates, or do you know of any published articles or reconstructions that have done this using GPlates?

Thanks and all the best,


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Hi Alan,

We have some papers and resources at However, I am not a researcher and not sure if these are what you are looking for. I guess no harm to have a look.

Alan!!! Hope you’ve been well mate!

Another place is to look at the Muller et al. (2019) model where we released the first reconstruction with deformation. In that reconstruction you’ll see how rifts have been treated, and I think there’s a few examples where the rift is propagating.

Let me know if you get stuck.


Thanks Michael, I’ll have a look and see if I can find anything there.

All the best,


Hey Sabin!

All good thanks! Good idea, I’ll have a look at the plate model and see if I can find a few examples.

Hope you’re well too,


Hey Alan,

Do you have an example of a rift that unequivocally propagated? We have extensively reconstructed distributed continental crustal extension in GPlates, e.g. in the Mediterranean region. Lateral termination of rifts is typically accommodated by relay ramps that transfer strain to adjacent rifts, accompanied by vertical axis rotation of the relay ramp.In such settings, extension is everywhere present between two diverging more rigid blocks, but is distributed across multiple faults/rifts. On small scale we documented and restored this for an extensional system in Anatolia (Koç et al Tectonics 2018), and we used the same principle to accommodate lateral termination of larger rift/ridge systems, e.g. from the Intra-Pontide ocean to the Pontide forearc, to the Greater Caucasus basin in the Jurassic. You could shift the Euler poles of the relay ramps to accommodate rift propagation. But intra-plate rift termination and propagation is pretty hard to reconstruct: it would require some ‘fluid’, caterpillar-like motion of one rift margin relative to each other, of which I don’t know examples. GPlates files of the Med reconstruction came as appendix to out Gond Res 2020 paper, let me know if you have questions.

Hope this helps,


Hi Alan,

Heine et al. (2013) comes to mind as an example (failed African rifts).



Hi Douwe,

Thanks for the reply. I should have clarified that I was referring to propagating rifts in oceanic crust, but I’ll have a look at the papers you suggested to get some ideas. Interesting that you mention block rotation, as it plays a significant role in the transfer zone between the oceanic propagating rift and the doomed rift. We also observe block rotation in back-arc basins when adjacent to a STEP fault.

In the most recent global reconstruction that Dietmar published last year, PRs such as the 95Galapagos are not really represented as propagators, rather as spreading ridges with a short transform segment between them. I was hoping to find a more detailed example, or a gplates model that attempted to model the evolution of an ocean PR.

Thanks again for the suggestions,


Hi Nico,

I hope all is well with you. Thanks for the suggestion!