Vince/ PlateKinematics/ KinematicsPrimer/

Please be aware that all of the materials linked to this page are in working-draft form, and are subject to revision whenever I get around to it.

A primer on the kinematics of the lithosphere and continental crust

All of the original content in the documents directly accessible via this web page, including the content of the draft textbook, is © 2017 by Vincent S. Cronin
Last revised 28 February 2017.


This text has several goals. First is to provide a basic operational overview of the kinematics of plate tectonics, extended to the kinematics of the continental crust as measured using GPS-derived velocities. Second is to provide geoscience students with some experience with aspects of applied mathematics, particularly in vector and matrix mathematics. Third is to provide geoscience students with an experience in programming, using Mathematica. All of these goals are intended to address deficiencies in skills or knowledge that have been evident as I have worked with university geoscience students in the United States during the past quarter century. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to help the following generations to develop the skills and knowledge they need in order to better understand Earth, its history, and its systems.

This primer is not intended to be a survey the history of the development of plate tectonics, which is a very interesting topic that is well covered in other texts. It is also not meant to provide a survey of current understanding of the tectonic context of plate boundaries worldwide. And it is not a textbook on geodynamics: the physics of the mechanisms of plate tectonics.

Acrobat files

Mathematica notebook files

Other supplementary files

Bill Hammond's MatLab script for computing crustal strain from GPS velocities

Suggestions, additions and corrections will be gratefully accepted. Communicate with Vince Cronin.

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All of the original content of this website is © 2014 by Vincent S. Cronin