Plate tectonics may be active on Earth from the beginning
A new study suggests that plate tectonics - the scientific theory that the earth is divided into large chunks of crust that move slowly on a hot viscous mantle - could be active from the very beginning of the existence of the planet. The new findings contradict earlier hypothesis that the tectonic plates have evolved over billions of years. The work, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has important implications for the field of geochemistry and geophysics.
A better understanding of plate tectonics, for example, can help us understand whether a planet outside our solar system to be hospitable to life.
Plate tectonics: when she appeared?
"Plate tectonics created the conditions for life," says Nick Daygert, associate professor of petrology and geochemistry of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Faculty. "The more we know about the ancient plate tectonics, the better we can understand how the Earth became what is now."
For the study Daygert and his team examined the distribution of two very specific isotopes of noble gases: helium-3 and neon-22. Noble gases - those who do not respond nor any other chemical element.
Previous models have explained the current ratio of helium-3 / neon-22, so that a series of large-scale attacks (such as those that result did our Moon) has led to a massive ocean of magma, which was degassed and gradually increased the ratio. But Daygert considers this scenario unlikely.
"Although there is no conclusive evidence that this does not happen, they could raise the ratio is only under very specific conditions."
Instead Daygert and his team believe that the ratio of helium-3 / neon-22 has grown differently.
As continuous crust formation ratio of helium to neon mantle increased under the bark. By calculating the ratio in the mantle beneath the crust, and considering how this process would affect the three-dimensional Earth for extended periods of time, it was possible to establish the approximate time of occurrence of tectonic cycle.
"Helium-3 and neon-22 were produced during the formation of the solar system, rather than as whatever else," says Daygert. "Thus, they provide valuable insight into the early earth conditions and subsequent geological activity."
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