Scientists Reveal Mechanics Of Continental Break-up

Posted: Jul 19 2016, 6:52am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Scientists Reveal Mechanics of Continental Break-up
Credit: University of Sydney

Don't Miss: This How to find Fingerlings in Stock

Using seismic data and sophisticated computer simulations, a team of international scientists has revealed the underlying mechanics when a pair of continents part ways -- a phenomenon that is still not completely understood.

The team used computer simulations to uncover a distinct two-phase separation process.

At first, continents gradually inch apart as a hot, jagged rift is etched into the landscape.

Then, after millions of years of strained, relentless pulling of the Earth's crust, the continents lurch away from each other, beginning their steady march towards separate sides of the globe as a new ocean forms between them.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature, this work highlights a phenomenon that is otherwise difficult to explain within the conventional framework of plate tectonics.

"Plates tend to shift around quite slowly because they're sitting on an otherwise very viscous mantle," said study co-author Dietmar Muller from the University of Sydney.

"However, throughout Earth's history, there have been plenty of instances where plates have suddenly sped up during supercontinent breakup. This has puzzled us for decades, as this behavior can't easily be reconciled with our understanding of what drives plate motion," he added.

The study involved analysis of thousands of kilometers of seismic profiles to pinpoint areas where the continents had been vigorously stretched during their detachment. The researchers then designed computer simulations that independently verified this two-phase breakup.

The split did not tend to end amicably.

"The breakup process leads to margin segmentation, where rapid subsidence, high heat flow and enhanced volcanism characterize the outer margin," said study lead author Sascha Brune from the University of Potsdam, Germany.

It results in a full-margin rupture that sends the outer rims of the continents plunging into the sea.

"The Earth's submerged continental shelves play an indelible role in biogeochemical cycles such as carbon burial and nutrient cycling," Brune said.

Holiday Gift Guides and Deals

Get your Holiday gifting inspired by Best Toy Gifts with High STEM Value and the Top 10 toy gifts under $10 if you are on budget. The most popular Holiday 2017 toy list include Fingerlings, Crate Creatures and more. Don't miss the new Holiday deals on Amazon Devices, including $29.99 Fire tablet.

This story may contain affiliate links.

This free App Solves You Holiday Shopping Problem

Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Fingerling, Luvabella, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/59" rel="author">IANS</a>
The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) was established in 1986, initially to serve as an information bridge between India and its thriving Diaspora in North America. Now IANS is a full-fledged wire agency, putting out news 24x7 from around the world.




comments powered by Disqus