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Plate tectonics

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Volcanism, driven by plate tectonics, built Earth’s atmosphere to make a habitable planet. Simon Redfern/University of Cambridge

How the air we breathe was created by Earth’s tectonic plates

How is it that Earth developed an atmosphere that made the development of life possible? A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience links the origins of Earth’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere to the…
How many continents can you count on one hand? Chones

Continents may not have been created in the way we thought

From the 1950s until recently, we thought we had a clear idea of how continents form. Most people will have heard of plate tectonics: moving pieces on the surface of the planet that collide, pull away…
Over time, Earth’s plates went from static to dynamic. Modestas Jonauskas/Flickr

What a crack up: hefty continents got tectonic plates moving

Plate tectonics – the large-scale movement of Earth’s lithosphere or outer layers – started around three billion years ago, but how those movements started was a bit of a mystery – until today. With colleagues…
We’re learning how the earliest rocks formed, and they’re providing a pretty weird picture of the young Earth. Taran Rampersad

Keep a lid on it: the controversy over Earth’s oldest rocks

New evidence is shedding light on the processes that formed Earth’s oldest rock and mineral record – processes that influenced the early evolution of life. Over the past 30 years our knowledge of the earliest…
Lucy, born 3.2m years ago. Pat Sullivan/AP

How a changing landscape and climate shaped early humans

It should not be a surprise that East Africa was a hotbed of evolution, because over the last five million years everything about the landscape has changed. The extraordinary forces of plate tectonics…
The new findings show that long term geological processes influence global coral diversity patterns more than the environment. AAP Image/Nick Thake

How earthquakes and volcanoes shape coral diversity

Earthquakes, volcanoes and movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates influence coral diversity patterns more than short-term…
The theory of plate tectonics is the foundation for understanding geodynamics. rgordon

Breaking new ground – the rise of plate tectonics

Exactly 100 years ago, German geophysicist Alfred Wegener presented his theory of continental drift – the idea that the continents of Earth are gradually drifting apart. And now we have some compelling…

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