University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) geoscientist Dr. Robert J. Stern is co-convening a Geological Society of America (GSA) Penrose Conference on plate tectonics beginning today in Lander, Wyoming.
The six-day conference, titled “When Did Plate Tectonics Begin On Earth? Theoretical and Empirical Constraints,” is being held at the Pronghorn Lodge in Lander, located in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains. Other co-conveners of the event include Kent C. Condie, of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico, and Alfred Kröner, Institut für Geowissenschaften at Universität Mainz in Mainz, Germany.
Plate tectonics is a theory formulated in the late 1960s that states the Earth's crust and upper mantle – a layer called the lithosphere – is broken into moving pieces called plates. According to the theory, these plates move very slowly over time, causing earthquakes and creating volcanoes, mountains and valleys, depending on the direction of their movement. The GSA conference will focus on when and why plate tectonics began, which is described by organizers as one of the most important unresolved issues in understanding our planet.
The GSA Penrose Conferences, named in honor of R.A.F. Penrose, Jr., a benefactor of the society, were established in 1969 to provide the opportunity for the exchange of information and ideas pertaining to the science of geology and related fields.
Stern is the former head of UTD’s Geosciences Department. He is on a faculty development leave this academic year, and will resume his teaching and research duties at UTD in the fall.