Geologists may have to revise their ideas about what goes on in the Earths interior, following the publication today of new research in the journal Nature. It appears that contrary to previous belief, part of the interior has remained undisturbed for at least two-and-a-half billion years, in spite of the massive forces at work inside the planet.
Like a saucepan of thick syrup being heated on the stove, huge convection currents within the Earth, generated by heat from the core, have stirred up the interior for most of its four-and-a-half billion year history. This has led geologists to believe that the interior is now well mixed. But Dr Simon Turner and Professor Chris Hawkesworth from the Earth Sciences Department at Bristol University, with colleagues at the Open University, have new data that suggest the presence of extremely ancient material beneath the Azores.
The islands of the Azores are volcanoes that sit either side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a huge mountain chain beneath the ocean that formed as hot material from the Earths interior rose to the surface. In some places, such as the Azores, the tops of these mountains form islands. The lavas from the Azores volcanoes appear to have been derived from some of the oldest material yet discovered within the convecting and well stirred part of the Earth.
Cherry Lewis | alfa
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