Insights into paleobiogeography and tectonics from the open-source and community GPlates platform

Image: EarthByte

Plate tectonics has controlled the configuration of continents over billions of years of Earth history. This changing configuration has been key to the biogeographic dispersal and evolution of fauna and flora, as well as controlling long-term oceanic circulation, the deep carbon cycle, climate and sea level.

The open-source, cross-platform and community software GPlates has been used to reconstruct the evolution of Earth’s tectonics over the last billion years by using a synthesis of geological and geophysical data from the continental and marine record. In particular, paleo-environmental indicators from fossils in the Paleobiology Database have been used to refine global paleogeographic maps, while climate-sensitive proxy data has been used to infer the changing climatic zones since the Devonian (~400 million years ago).

Other studies have used plate tectonic reconstructions in GPlates to estimate latitudinally-dependent diversity of species through geological time, as well as investigating the broader control of tectonics on global marine animal diversity.

This talk will also cover the basics of applying your own data in a tectonic context using open-source and open-access community software and data and will be followed by a hands-on tutorial on how to install and use GPlates for your own research and teaching.

Sabin Zahirovic obtained his PhD at the University of Sydney in 2015. Sabin has worked in the EarthByte group at the University of Sydney since late 2008 (initially as a Research and Teaching Assistant), and since mid 2015 has been a postdoctoral research associate in the Basin GENESIS Hub. Sabin is also a lecturer in undergraduate geoscience units at the School of Geosciences. Sabin’s research has focused on Tethyan plate tectonics and geodynamics using the open-source GPlates software, and more recently has worked on improving plate reconstructions of Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. 

Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series


After his seminar, Sabin is giving a FREE WORKSHOP on using GPlates from 3-4 pm in the Gould Meeting Room, Gould Building. RSVP to Nick Matzke.

Date & time

1–2pm 1 August 2017


Gould Seminar Room (Rm 235), Bldg 116, Gould Building, Daley Road, ANU


Dr Sabin Zahirovic, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney


 Nick Matzke

Updated:  18 October 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  Coordinator