Do you know how the crust of the planet is solid under our feet? Well, we are walking on a sea of hot mineral. For years now, scientists have tried to understand what’s the reason behind the movement of Earth’s surface layers. We might have the answer now.
In order to see if the drifting tectonic plates stir the mantle, and the currents are to blame for the movement, scientists have tried to look at the problem from a different light, looking at it as a single system. And it’s not so easy.
Researchers from École Normale Supérieure and the Université Grenoble Alpes, together with the University of Texas have made brand new 3D models of the world that resembles Earth, with difficult equations that took nine months for a computer to solve. The results are in, and apparently we didn’t look from the right angle. It’s nor about the cooling crust which constantly pushes against the mantle, but it’s the surface of the planet with deforms as it ages.
We have seen the outer coat of Earth slipping around like a loose suit of armor, with its plated just being together in some parts, and being apart in others. Theories before showed that this movement is the result of the convection currents in the hot rock that we know as being out mantle when it rises, it cools, and then sinks. Ever since the 1950s, we learned a lot about how the surface sinks in some part, while it rises in others.
Models that try to describe this process encountered some problems by trying to match the dragging and friction forces of the grinding plates, by using the movement of the mantle.