Seismological evidence for the earliest global subduction network at 2 Ga ago

Bo Wan*, Xusong Yang, Xiaobo Tian, Huaiyu Yuan, Uwe Kirscher, Ross N. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


The earliest evidence for subduction, which could have been localized, does not signify when plate tectonics became a global phenomenon. To test the antiquity of global subduction, we investigated Paleoproterozoic time, for which seismic evidence is available from multiple continents. We used a new high-density seismic array in North China to image the crustal structure that exhibits a dipping Moho bearing close resemblance to that of the modern Himalaya. The relict collisional zone is Paleoproterozoic in age and implies subduction operating at least as early as ~2 billion years (Ga) ago. Seismic evidence of subduction from six continents at this age is interpreted as the oldest evidence of global plate tectonics. The sutures identified can be linked in a plate network that resulted in the assembly of Nuna, likely Earth’s first supercontinent. Global subduction by ~2 Ga ago can explain why secular planetary cooling was not appreciable until Proterozoic time.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabc5491
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScience Advances
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'Seismological evidence for the earliest global subduction network at 2 Ga ago'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this