On the fate of a Plate

The Phoenix Plate was a relatively small tectonic plate which existed in the mid-Cretaceous but, under pressure from its more massive neighbours, the Scotia Plate to the north-east and the Antarctic Plate to the west and south-east, it was subducted beneath the latter and disappeared just a few million years ago. I felt its efforts to preserve a memorial of itself deserved recognition.

Let’s commemorate the Phoenix Plate,
Which, right through the Cretaceous,
Held its own in the pressure zone
’Twixt neighbours most mendacious.

The Scotia Plate and its Antarctic mate
Each wanted Phoenix gone.
Poor Phoenix knew that this was true
But couldn’t match their brawn –

Its south-east flank had already sank
Beneath the cruel Antarctic.
Though much aggrieved, it now conceived
A really most bizarre trick:

Its subducting crust, it reasoned, must
Sink mantlewards so steep
That a trench is created ’twixt it and the hated
Antarctic – and it would be deep.

And, what is more, the Antarctic’s shore
Would be stretched until, onto the scene
Hot magma bursts through, making islands anew
With a backarc-type basin between.

So Phoenix has gone, but its memory lives on
In the South Shetland Islands (and, too,
The Bransfield Strait), recording the fate
Of the Phoenix Plate, disappeared from view . . .

Image: Wikimedia commons (Breitsprecher & Thorkelson, 2009)

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