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I have been fascinated with the finite and instantaneous motion of lithospheric plates and of blocks of upper continental crust since the late 1970s, when I was introduced to the material in Donald McIntyre's undergraduate course on "geophysics and global tectonics" at Pomona College. In the late spring of 1980 before I went off to Dartmouth College to pursue my Masters, Mason Hill (of "Hill & Dibblee, 1953" fame) met with me to help me sort through possible thesis topics. He told me, "If you are going to understand the structural evolution of the California margin, you need to start by understanding how the Pacific plate has moved relative to the North American plate since the Pliocene." It turned-out that the general question of how to model the motion of a rigid plate relative to an adjacent plate was not well (or correctly) understood at the time. It would take me another six years to answer that question (Cronin, 1986). I am still working to understand the applications and implications of that answer.
Cronin, V.S., 1986, Cycloid tectonics: Relative motion on a sphere: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 18, p. 575.
NASA image ISS035-E-007148
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