Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences

pp 1-15

Date: Latest Version

Paleophysiography of Ocean Basins

  • R. Dietmar MüllerAffiliated withEarthByte Group, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney Email author 
  • , Maria SetonAffiliated withEarthByte Group, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney


Paleogeography of Ocean Basins


Plate motions and the history of plate boundary geometries through time are the primary drivers for the large-scale paleophysiography of the ocean basins. These in turn determine the history of seafloor spreading and subduction, driving the time dependence of the age-area distribution of ocean floor. The depth of the ocean floor and volume of the ocean basins are primarily dependent on its age. Reconstructions of the age and depth distribution of the ocean floor combined with estimates of sediment thickness through time and the reconstruction of oceanic plateaus yield broad-scale paleophysiographic maps of the ocean basins.


The paleophysiography of the ocean basins relies on an understanding of the current physiography of the oceans and the processes governing its development through geological time. The most fundamental parameter driving the depth distribution of ocean basins is the age of the oceanic lithosphere. The recognit ...

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