Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rare View Reveals How Earth's Crust Forms

A new view into the mantle beneath the East Pacific Rise reveals how mid-ocean ridges work.


One of the Earth's best-ever baby pictures reveals how crust forms at the biggest volcanic feature on the planet.

The detailed look at molten magma beneath a mid-ocean ridge, one of the giant undersea cracks that ring the globe like seams on a baseball, sheds light on the driving forces behind plate tectonics. The results of the study are published today (March 27) in the journal Nature.

Most of the Earth (70 percent) is covered by oceanic crust, mainly basalt, formed from lava that burbles out ofmid-ocean ridges. The ridges run across some 40,000 miles (65,000 kilometers) of the seafloor. They mark where crust pulls apart, leaving space for hotter mantle rock underneath to rise up and melt.

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