Earth’s continental drift may be speeding up

“This is quite mind boggling,” says Professor Kent Condie of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, who led the study.
“It’s different from what most people thought because Earth is cooling and everybody assumed plate movements would slow down.”
To read the full article go to
http://www.sott.net/article/280516-Earths-continental-drift-may-be-speeding-up

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One response to “Earth’s continental drift may be speeding up”

  1. Salty says :

    .
    From the article.
    “Supporting evidence
    A separate paper presented at the Goldschmidt conference led by Professor Peter Cawood of the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, also suggests the rate of continental drift has changed over time.

    Cawood and colleagues examined earlier studies on continental movement, finding the planet was stable between 1.7 to 0.75 billion years ago – a time known as Earth’s ‘middle age’ – which coincides with the formation of the Rodinia supercontinent.

    During this time, they found there was little new crust building activity, no major changes in atmospheric composition and few major developments in the fossil record.

    In contrast, major ice ages and changes in oxygen levels occurred on either side of this period.

    Cawood suggests the stability seen during the Rodinia supercontinent epoch may have been due to the gradual cooling of Earth’s crust.

    “Before 1.7 billion years ago, the Earth’s crust would have been substantially hotter, meaning that continental plate movement may have been governed by different rules to those that operate today,” says Cawood.

    “[750 million years ago], the crust reached a point where it had cooled sufficiently to allow modern day plate tectonics to start working, in particular allowing subduction zones to form where one plate of the crust moves under another.”

    This increased activity could have kick-started a series of events, including the break-up of Rodinia and changes to levels of key elements in the atmosphere and seas.

    “This in turn may have induced evolutionary changes in the life forms present at the time,” says Cawood.”

    This increased activity could have kick-started a series of events, including the break-up of Rodinia and changes to levels of key elements in the atmosphere and seas.

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