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Why could the collision of two tectonic plates split the Earth in two?

A new study confirms that the Indian plate beneath the Tibet region is undergoing a process known as delamination (Illustrated Image Infobae)

Our planet is in constant motion. But not only around the sun or even around its axis. It is a living planet at its coreWith the daily movements of its tectonic plates at a depth of tens of kilometers below its surface.

In a presentation at a conference American Geophysical Union At a conference held in San Francisco last December, researchers from institutions in the United States and China revealed that they had discovered this Tibet may be divided into two parts under the rising Himalayas, With pieces of the continental plate separating. The scientists recently published a version of their research that has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Research has shown this Geology beneath the world's highest mountain range It may be more complicated than previously thought. The Himalayas grow because of Two continental tectonic plates, the Indian and the Eurasiancolliding under this huge mountain range.

The Himalayas grow due to the collision of two continental tectonic plates, the Indian and Eurasian, under this huge mountain range.
The Himalayas grow due to the collision of two continental tectonic plates, the Indian and Eurasian, under this huge mountain range.

Tectonic plates are like pieces Of the mystery that forms the Earth's crust. They move above the Earth's mantle, which can be found due to the pressures it resists “sticky paste” or in a solid state.

In cases where The collision of oceanic and continental plates, The denser oceanic plate slides beneath the lighter continental plate in a process called subduction. Although, when The collision of two continental plates of equal density (As is the case under the Himalayas), it is not easy to predict which plate will end up under the other, and geologists are still not sure exactly what is happening in Tibet.

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The Himalayas are a geographical wonder that evolved 52 million years ago. Its mountain range includes Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, with a height of 8,848 metres. In the mid-Eocene, the Indian Plate (then an island) collided with the Eurasian Plate and eventually formed the tallest mountains in the world.

For decades, some scientists have argued that the Indian plate resisted deep subduction into the mantle (also known as subduction) and instead moved horizontally beneath the mantle. eurasian plate, Another tectonic plate that makes this mountain masterpiece possible. However, an opposing faction insists that the Indian plate is actually subducting under the Eurasian plate and melting in magma.

One possibility is that the Indian painting is distorted in such a way that some parts are wrinkled and bent, and other parts are sunken and sunk (pictogram information)
One possibility is that the Indian painting is distorted in such a way that some parts are wrinkled and bent, and other parts are sunken and sunk (pictogram information)

But an international team of geodynamicists decided to take a third tack, borrowing wise words from a famous phrase: “Why not both?” Their new study suggests that the Indian plate beneath Tibet is fluctuating A process known as laminationThe upper part of the plate nurtures the Eurasian vegetation while the lower part splits and embeds itself in the mantle.

Catch Dynamics are in play between 100 and 200 kilometers Beneath these mountains could help scientists complete a more accurate picture of how the Himalayas formed and, at the same time, understand the possible possibilities. Seismic threats For the region. The researchers originally presented their findings in December 2023 at the American Geophysical Union conference and now They posted Preprint without peer review in a scientific journal ESS Open archive.

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While this tectonic opening has been theorized and even recreated using computer models, this is the first time scientists have captured a plate as it happens. plating. “We didn't know that continents could behave this way, and this is absolutely fundamental to solid Earth science,” the doctor said. doi van Hinsbergen, Geodynamics Utrecht University.

A map of the Earth with its continental and oceanic tectonic plates
A map of the Earth with its continental and oceanic tectonic plates

Although potentially concerning, studies of mantle and crustal density indicate that the fairly buoyant Indian continental plate, It should not sink easilyWhich means it's possible that submerged parts of the Earth's crust are still grinding under the belly of the Eurasian plate rather than being sunk deep into the mantle.

Another possibility is that the Indian painting was distorted in a way that caused some of its parts to become damaged crease and fold, And others They drown and drown.

Geophysicist Stanford Simon Klemperer He was interested in an area near Bhutan, in northeastern India: the subduction zone there is bending due to the non-uniform structure of the Indian plate. Klemperer made a series of measurements of helium isotopes (specifically, helium-3) surfacing in nearby springs.

Isometric projection map showing the center of the study area (Liu et al. - 2023)
Isometric projection map showing the center of the study area (Liu et al. – 2023)

after Collecting samples from about 200 springs over a distance of about 900 kilometers, They found a marked line where mantle (subduction) rocks meet crustal (non-subduction) rocks. However, three springs south of this line contain mantle signatures; In other words, Indian painting may have been divided into two parts.

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In addition, seismic analysis from hundreds of seismic stations also appears to highlight two “spots” that likely indicate a lower plate separated from an upper plate.

Although this drama began to unfold millions of years ago, Scientists are just beginning to uncover the complex dynamics of what shapes land masses around the world.

Understanding how and why plates sometimes undergo “why not both” behavior will help better predict seismic hazards on both the “roof of the world” and the rest of the faults, anywhere where a seemingly unstoppable force confronts an immobile body.

Freddie Dawson

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