Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Earth Scientists Forge New Understanding of Mountain-Building Dynamics


Understanding how mountains form is critically important -- from volcanic eruptions to earthquakes to catastrophic mudslides, the geologic processes active in mountain belts affect human societies every day. Yet, even though mountains are on all continents and in all ocean basins, scientists still understand relatively little about the forces that interact to form and destroy mountains, how mountains change over time, and the relationship between mountains and Earth’s climate.

Photograph showing typical texture indicative of what was once magma within the central parts of a batholith (a large intrusion of magma into rock).
Credit: Photo courtesy of Keith Klepeis, University of Vermont; NSF

Unusually well exposed section of rock from Early Cretaceous continental crust located in Fiordland, New Zealand. (Section constructed by Keith Klepeis, University of Vermont)
Credit: Photo courtesy of Keith Klepeis, University of Vermont; NSF

To better understand these dynamics, earth scientists are now integrating studies across traditional disciplinary boundaries. In research funded by NSF and published in the January 2003 GSA Today, scientists have demonstrated a new way to integrate results from observations collected in the field with laboratory and experimental techniques. The team studied a mountain belt located in Fiordland, South Island, New Zealand.

"This integrative approach has allowed a better understanding of the processes [behind mountain building]," said Tracy Rushmer, a geologist at the University of Vermont and a co-author of the GSA Today paper. The findings have revealed processes that control the movement of magma, the impact of magma on rock deformation, and how the strength of the mountain belt changes through time, said Rushmer.

In Fiordland, where rocks from early mountain-building on Earth are exposed at the surface, the research has, "revealed the mechanisms by which magma was generated and transported through lower continental crust, and how these processes affected the formation of mountains over millions of years," said Rushmer.

Researchers know that mountains are the surface expression of plate tectonic forces -- forces that make our planet different from all others in the solar system. Tectonic forces are the dynamic link between processes active in the deep Earth, processes that change Earth’s surface, and the atmosphere that drives the hydrologic cycle and fosters life. Towering mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, exist because rock is uplifted so quickly that erosion can not strip it away fast enough to level the peaks. Such an understanding is important, say geologists, because ultimately it will allow us to more accurately predict the Earth’s behavior.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>