As anyone with a smattering of geological knowledge knows, Earths crust is made up of plates that creep over the planets surface at a rate of several inches per year. But why do they move the way they do? Even experts have had trouble teasing out the exact mechanisms.
A model developed by University of Michigan researchers and published in the Oct. 4 issue of Science provides a relatively simple explanation.
"Its been known that slabs (portions of plates that extend down into the Earth) drive convection in Earths mantle, and ultimately the motion of the surface plates, but it hasnt been well established exactly how that happens---the ideas have been fairly vague," says Clinton Conrad, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of geological sciences. "In this paper, weve been able to describe more precisely how slabs interact with the plates."
Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
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