Earths continents function as a thermal blanket

January 23rd, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 23 (ANI): Numerical modelling by scientists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences has determined that the continents of our planet function as a thermal blanket, which leads to an accumulation of heat underneath, and which in turn can cause the break-up of the super-continents.

Alfred Wegeners theory of continental drift was turned up when the driving forces for continental drift were discovered during the 50s and 60s.

The enormous heat in the Earths core and Earths mantle generates the flow of rocks within the planets mantle, a process similar to the movement of warm water in a cooking pot.

This heat-driven mass transport is called convection. On the Earths surface, this process leads not only to plate movement, but also to drifting of the continents floating on the plates.

To date however, there has been no realistic mathematicalphysical theory describing the interaction between the convective movement in the Earths mantle and the continental drift.

Now, V. Trubitsin, M. Kaban und M. Rothacher from the GFZ have developed a numerical model, based on the current position of the continents, the structures of the Earths mantle obtained through geophysical measurements, and the current displacement rates on the surface.

Hence, they were able to calculate the future position of the continents in hundreds of millions of years.

It could be shown that the enormous heat in the Earths interior does not generally lead to a chaotic mass transport within the Earths mantle.

On the contrary, the continents influence the heat distribution within the Earths mantle and the associated convective mass flow. In other words, the continents act as a thermal blanket causing heat to accumulate beneath.

A self-regulating system develops, beginning and ending with a super-continent.

This super-continent breaks apart due to heat accumulation, which in turn leads to a reorganization of mantle convection with the pieces ultimately joining again to form a large super-continent. (ANI)

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