(ORDO NEWS) — Probably, the movement of tectonic plates is associated with convection currents in the Earth‘s mantle. Convection involves the rise of heated liquids.
The internal mechanisms of the Earth are often modeled as convection in the Earth’s mantle itself. But even proponents of mantle convection admit that this amount of internal thermal energy is not enough to drive large-scale tectonics.
There are other problems with using convection to explain observed plate movements. The Earth’s plates may be shifting because the Sun exerts such a strong gravitational pull on the Moon that it lengthens the Moon’s orbit around the Earth.
Over time, the position of the barycenter – the center of mass between the orbiting bodies of the Earth and the Moon – has shifted closer to the Earth’s surface and now fluctuates by 600 km per month relative to the geocenter. This creates internal stresses as the Earth continues to rotate.
Since the oscillating barycenter is ~4600 km away from the geocenter, the Earth’s tangential orbital acceleration and solar attraction are out of balance. The warm and dense inner layers of the planet can withstand these loads, but the thin, cold and fragile lithosphere responds with destruction.
The daily rotation flattens the Earth, which also destroys the lithosphere. These two independent stresses create plate movements observed in the outer shell. The variety of movements comes from changing the direction and magnitude of gravitational forces over time.
How to check it? Scientists have studied in detail the tectonics of Pluto. They are too small and cold for convection, but have a large moon and a surprisingly young surface.
It turned out that the presence and duration of tectonic phenomena depend on a specific combination of the size of the moon, its orbital orientation, proximity to the Sun, and the rate of rotation and cooling of the body.
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