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Articles on Plate tectonics

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An artist’s impression of the Earth around 2.7 billion years ago in the Archean Eon. With green iron-rich seas, an orange methane-rich atmosphere and a surface dominated by oceans, the Archean Earth would have been a very different place. (Illustration by Andrey Atuchin)

Where did the Earth’s oxygen come from? New study hints at an unexpected source

Could tectonic processes in the early Earth have contributed to the rise of oxygen?
Earth’s interior 80 million years ago with hot structures in yellow to red (darker is shallower) and cold structures in blue (darker is deeper). Ömer Bodur/Nature

Volcanoes, diamonds, and blobs: a billion-year history of Earth’s interior shows it’s more mobile than we thought

Ancient blobs deep inside the Earth gather together and break apart like continents, according to new research.
New research suggests that Venus’ crust is broken into large blocks – the dark reddish–purple areas – that are surrounded by belts of tectonic structures shown in lighter yellow–red. Paul K. Byrne/NASA/USGS

The surface of Venus is cracked and moves like ice floating on the ocean – likely due to tectonic activity

Researchers used decades-old radar data and found that some low-lying areas of Venus’ crust are moving and jostling. This evidence is some of the strongest yet of tectonic activity on Venus.
The greenhouse effect and plate tectonics are essential for maintaining water on the Earth’s surface. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli

Why is the Earth blue?

The presence of water on the Earth’s surface is the result of a subtle balance between different mechanisms in the atmosphere and below the surface.
Tharp with an undersea map at her desk. Rolled sonar profiles of the ocean floor are on the shelf behind her. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the estate of Marie Tharp

Marie Tharp pioneered mapping the bottom of the ocean 6 decades ago – scientists are still learning about Earth’s last frontier

Born on July 30, 1920, geologist and cartographer Tharp changed scientific thinking about what lay at the bottom of the ocean – not a featureless flat, but rugged and varied terrain.
Half Dome in California is constituted from granite, a relatively less dense type of rock. (Shutterstock)

Earth’s rock-solid connections between Canada and Australia contain clues about the origin of life

How the earliest continents formed has been a matter of debate. Analysis of zircons in Canada and Australia suggest that those historical processes are similar to current tectonic movements.
The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church lies in ruins after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, Jan. 7, 2020. AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

Earthquake forecast for Puerto Rico: Dozens more large aftershocks are likely

Puerto Rico’s January earthquakes came after many foreshocks and have been followed by numerous aftershocks. Scientists are studying these sequences to improve earthquake forecasting.
On June 5-6, 2012, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory collected images of one of the rarest predictable solar events: the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. NASA/SDO, AIA

Why we need to get back to Venus

This hot, acidic neighbor with its surface veiled in thick clouds hasn’t benefited from the attention showered on Mars and the Moon. But Venus may offer insights into the fate of the Earth.
Material from the Earth’s core has been leaking into the mantle through activity that led to volcanic eruptions such as that helped form the Hawaiian islands. EPA/Bruce Omori/Paradise Helicopters

Earth’s core has been leaking for billions of years

New findings suggest the core has been leaking for the past 2.5 billion years, and that could help scientists understand how the core was formed.

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