From: Ruhr-University Bochum
Published August 22, 2017 10:08 AM

How Continents Were Recycled

Researchers from Germany and Switzerland have used computer simulations to analyse how plate tectonics have evolved on Earth over the last three billion years. They show that tectonic processes have changed in the course of the time, and demonstrate how those changes contributed to the formation and destruction of continents. The model reconstructs how present-day continents, oceans and the atmosphere may have evolved.

Priyadarshi Chowdhury and Prof Dr Sumit Chakraborty from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, together with Prof Dr Taras Gerya from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH), present their work in the journal “Nature Geosciences”.

Hotly disputed: when did plate tectonics emerge?

The Earth formed approximately four and a half billion years ago. There was a phase – perhaps even several – when it was mainly composed of molten rock. As it cooled, solid rock and the Earth’s crust formed. Generally speaking, there are two types of crust on Earth: a lighter continental crust that is rich in silicon and constitutes the dry land above sea level, and a denser oceanic crust where water gathers in the form of large oceans. “These properties render the Earth habitable,” says Sumit Chakraborty. “We haven’t found anything comparable anywhere else in the universe.”

Read more at Ruhr-University Bochum

Image: Priyadarshi Chowdhury (left) and Sumit Chakraborty (right) have developed a model that reconstructs billions of years in the history of the Earth. (Credit: RUB, Kramer)

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