Subduction zone symbology


For my tectonic reconstruction I would like to show subduction zone symbology as in the animation of Merdith et al. (2020). However, the GPlates documentation on subduction zone symbology only shows how to do this by brushing up their exported snapshots in Adobe Illustrator. Did Merdith et al. (2020) edit 1000 shapshots of their reconstruction to Illustrator, or is there a more elegant way of accomplishing this?

Many thanks,

Hi Thomas,

That might have been done using Simon William’s GPlatesReconstructionModel. Have a look at this notebook which uses this function which uses pygmt to plot the teeth (see here).

Also Ben Mather wrote a function in PlateTectonicTools that takes as input a subduction boundary shapefile and outputs x,y coordinates of triangles that trace subduction teeth (in lon/lat coordinates) that you can then plot yourself.

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Hi @thomas.schouten,

in addition to John’s comment, you can also generate a simple GMT script (bash or Python depending on your liking) and do the following:

  • Export your reconstruction sequence in OGR_GMT format from GPlates (or use pyGPlates to reconstruct)
  • Loop over the exported data in a bash script, plotting the reconstructed data using a map setup in GMT, with the plot module doing the heavy lifting

I suspect that this is what Andrew et al. might have used - not sure whether the tools John mentioned from Simon or Ben ultimate use GMT in the background for plotting.

The plot module allows to draw fronts on lines (here’s an old example I made). In particular, have a look at the -Sk option which will do the job. GMT really excels at doing this in a scripted way.

FWIW - It’s been a while since I last tested this, but I found the combination of pyGPlates and pyGMT to run over 100-150 reconstruction steps quite slow (this was using WSL on Windoze), exporting from GPlates and running the loop in bash had a much faster performance.

HTH, Christian

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Thanks for your help! I will likely resort to Simon Williams’ script for now.