PhD Candidate

Madsen Building (F09), Room 403

Primary supervisor:
Prof. Dietmar Müller

Prof. Michael Gurnis - California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Dr. Nicolas Flament
Dr. Simon Williams
Dr. Stephen Hardy - Australia's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence (NICTA)


Associated funded projects:

ARC Discovery Project (DP130101946): Understanding the deep driving forces of Earth’s large-scale topography through time.

SIEF Project (Ref: RP04-174): Big data knowledge discovery: Machine learning meets natural science.

PhD Project: The co-evolution of plate tectonics and the deep Earth: Understanding lower mantle structures and their
relationship with continental configuration over the past 1 billion years.

The project will involve the development of global geodynamic models of the deep Earth and a new machine learning optimisation framework to simulate tectonic plate motions, mantle convection, and core-mantle boundary conditions. Models will be produced using a combination of the physics based finite-element model CitcomS and GPlates software from approximately 1 Ga to present. The models aim to investigate the relationship that exists between the deep mantle, core-mantle boundary, and the configuration of continents on the surface of the Earth through approximately two supercontinent cycles.

The geodynamic models will investigate the conditions leading to the creation and stability of deep mantle structures including large low-shear-wave velocity provinces (LLSVPs), plumes, and plume generation zones (PGZs), as well as core-mantle boundary (CMB) heat flow regimes, and the associated role of sub ducted slab material in the mantle system at a resolution of 20-40 km.

Geodynamic models will be constrained using the following boundary conditions: (i) a suite of alternative plate kinematic models, including plate models developed by the EarthByte Group (USYD), existing published plate models, and a new set of alternative simulated plate 'forward' models generated as part of this PhD project using a combination of machine learning techniques and large scale geophysical data resources, (ii) compositionally distinct continents, oceanic crust and LLSVPs, and (iii) the thermal structure of continental and oceanic lithospheres, and subducting slabs.

Cluster analysis of geodynamic model output will be developed to more efficiently process model results. Dynamic topography will be used to ‘ground truth’ results and identify zones of mantle-driven uplift and subsidence. This will be achieved by comparing modelled data with published observed geological data including fission-track and U-Pb thermochronology.

Mike is a member of the EarthByte Group: http://www.earthbyte.org, and his research can be followed on ResearchGate.


  • Tetley, M.G. & Daczko, N.R., 2014. Virtual Petrographic Microscope: a multi-platform education and research software tool to analyse rock thin-sections. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 61(4), pp.631–637.


  • Tetley, M. G. & Müller R. D. (2014). Building a Virtual Geological Observatory: Opportunities for MagIC. Keynote presentation. 2014 MagIC Science and Database Workshop, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, CA, United States.
  • Tetley, M. G., Schmidt, P.W., Williams, S.E., Müller, R. D., & Musgrave, R. J. (2014). Palaeomagnetics of the Palaeozoic Lachlan Orogen: terrane relationships and implications for its tectonic evolution. Australian Earth Sciences Convention, 2014. Newcastle Australia.
  • Tetley, M. G., Schmidt, P. W., Williams, S. E., Müller, R. D., & Musgrave, R. J. (2013). Macquarie Arc and the Lachlan Orocline hypothesis: Magnetic analysis and development of geologically constrained forward model of lithospheric magnetisation. ASEG Extended Abstracts, 2013(1), 1–3.
  • Foss, C., McKenzie, B., Hillan, D., & Tetley, M. (2012). Recovery of magnetization direction from magnetic field interpretation of a ring dyke in northern Queensland. International Geological Congress, Abstracts, Vol. 34, p.2027


  • Tetley, M. G., (2014). Palaeomagnetics of the Palaeozoic Lachlan Orogen: implications for its evolution and the existence of an orocline. Honours Thesis, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.