New Theory Might Solve the Mystery of the Tectonic Plates

The solid Earth has plenty of activity occurring inside of its. For example, the volcanoes in Java and the earthquakes in Japan are proof of the activity taking place within the solid Earth. All these actions mentioned above have been understood comprehensively within the context of the theory of plate tectonics, which is about 50 years old now.

What We Know So Far

According to the theory, the outer shell of our planet, the so-called lithosphere of Earth, is subdivided into various plates that can move relative to every one of them.  That way, most of the activity is concentrated along the boundaries between the plates themselves. Because of that, one might find it surprising that the scientific community has absolutely no idea how plate tectonics actually came into existence.

A Bright New Answer

Just this month, a new answer has been brought by Dr. Alexander Webb, affiliated with the Division of Earth and Planetary Science & Laboratory for Space Research, which is part of the University of Hong Kong. This is all in collaboration with an international team in a significant research that was published in the academic journal called Nature Communications. Webb holds a highly important position in this study: he is the corresponding author of the work that has been performed.

The team led by Dr. Webb has just come with an interesting proposal: there is the possibility that the shell of the Earth simply heated up, and, in the expansion, cracks were formed. All of these cracks grew over time, eventually coalescing into a network spanning all the globe.

How It Works

This has theoretically subdivided the shell of the early Earth into different plates. The team has managed to illustrate their theory through a series of numerical simulations and fracture mechanics, through a code that was developed by Professor Chunan Tang, the first author of the study.

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