Geologists shed new light on how continents might have formed

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists discovered that the first continents were not stable and were recycled in the Earth’s mantle.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), has significant implications for understanding how planets formed.

The researchers used high-performance computational modeling to simulate the evolution of the Earth over the first billion years.

The scientists found that when the early continental blocks entered the mantle, they melted and stirred until they dissolved.

The researchers found that some fragments of the original rocks can remain in the mantle for billions of years.

Over time, reworked parts of the continent can accumulate under the new lithosphere, making it more buoyant and strong enough to stop further reworking.

This study is unique because it explains how the continents connect.

Numerous observations of old continental cores, called cratons, show that they are much more complex and heterogeneous than the modern lithosphere.

Scientists believe that parts of the cratonic lithospheric mantle still exist in the mantle as scattered, depleted heterogeneities.

Some fragments accumulated under the lithosphere and then floated back up. The team called this mechanism “massive regional relamination” (MRR). Scientists believe that this phenomenon was key to the formation of continents on the early Earth.

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