Glacial sediments greased the gears of plate tectonics

Earth's outer layer is composed of giant plates that grind together, sliding past or dipping beneath one another, giving rise to earthquakes and volcanoes. These plates also separate at undersea mountain ridges, where molten ...

Study zeros in on plate tectonics' start date

Earth has some special features that set it apart from its close cousins in the solar system, including large oceans of liquid water and a rich atmosphere with just the right ingredients to support life as we know it. Earth ...

Scientists discover elusive secret of how continents formed

An international research team, led by a Virginia Tech geoscientist, has revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago—and how those processes have continued within the ...

Copper chains: Study reveals Earth's deep-seated hold on copper

Earth is clingy when it comes to copper. A new Rice University study this week in the journal Science finds that nature conspires at scales both large and small -- from the realms of tectonic plates down to molecular bonds ...

Diamonds pinpoint start of colliding continents

Jewelers abhor diamond impurities, but they are a bonanza for scientists. Safely encased in the super-hard diamond, impurities are unaltered, ancient minerals that can tell the story of Earth's distant past. Researchers analyzed ...

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