Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earth Scientists Forge New Understanding of Mountain-Building Dynamics

24.01.2003


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:
http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/tip030123.htm

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>