A study led by The Australian National University (ANU) has solved the 168-year-old mystery of how the world's biggest and most active volcanoes formed in Hawaii.
The study found that the volcanoes formed along twin tracks due to a shift in the Pacific Plate's direction three million years ago.
Lead researcher Tim Jones from ANU said scientists had known of the existence of the twin volcanic tracks since 1849, but the cause of them had remained a mystery until now.
"The discovery helps to better reconstruct Earth's history and understand part of the world that has captivated people's imagination," said Mr Jones, a PhD student from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences (RSES).
"The analysis we did on past Pacific Plate motions is the first to reveal that there was a substantial change in motion 3 million years ago. It helps to explain the origin of Hawaii, Earth's biggest volcanic hotspot and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world."
Twin volcanic tracks exist in other parts of the Pacific, including Samoa, and the study found that these also emerged three million years ago.
Mr Jones said this kind of volcanic activity was surprising because it occurred away from tectonic plate boundaries, where most volcanoes are found.
"Heat from the Earth's core causes hot columns of rock, called mantle plumes, to rise under tectonic plates and produce volcanic activity on the surface," he said.
"Mantle plumes have played a role in mass extinctions, the creation of diamonds and the breaking up of continents."
Co-researcher Dr Rhodri Davies from RSES said the twin volcanic tracks emerged because the mantle plume was out of alignment with the direction of the plate motion.
"Our hypothesis predicts that the plate and the plume will realign again at some stage in the future, and the two tracks will merge to form a single track once again," Dr Davies said.
"Plate shifts have been occurring constantly, but irregularly, throughout Earth's history. Looking further back in time we find that double tracks are not unique to young Hawaiian volcanism - indeed, they coincide with other past changes in plate motion."
Hawaii sits at the south-eastern limit of a chain of volcanoes and submerged seamounts which get progressively older towards the north west.
The researchers worked with the National Computational Infrastructure at ANU to model the Pacific Plate's change in direction and formation of the twin volcanic tracks through Hawaii.
The study is published in Nature.
For media assistance, contact Will Wright from the ANU Media Team on +612 6125 7979, +61 478 337 740 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Wright | EurekAlert!
Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon
Researchers create largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date
14.11.2017 | Gauss Centre for Supercomputing
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses