Chapter 3

From plates to orogeny

Plate tectonics provided a framework for understanding global geology, reinvigorating ideas about continental drift and giving context to new palaeomagnetic data form the continents. The implications of that framework for structural and metamorphic geology was spelled out by John F Dewey and John M Bird in their 1970 paper “Mountain belts and the new global tectonics”. Here they formally linked the deformation seen at ocean margins and in mountain belts to the geological consequences of plate movements: continental rupture and collision. They identified characteristic rock sequences associated with plate tectonic processes and showed that ancient examples could be found in the rock record.