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posted by mrpg on Tuesday June 21, @04:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the bull,-quakes-are-due-to-god's-rage dept.

New Understanding of Earth's Architecture: Updated Maps of Tectonic Plates:

New models that show how the continents were assembled are providing fresh insights into the history of the Earth and will help provide a better understanding of natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.

"We looked at the current knowledge of the configuration of plate boundary zones and the past construction of the continental crust," said Dr. Derrick Hasterok, Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide who led the team that produced the new models.

"The continents were assembled a few pieces at a time, a bit like a jigsaw, but each time the puzzle was finished it was cut up and reorganized to produce a new picture. Our study helps illuminate the various components so geologists can piece together the previous images.

"We found that plate boundary zones account for nearly 16 percent of the Earth's crust and an even higher proportion, 27 percent, of continents."

[...] "The biggest changes to the plate model have been in western North America, which often has the boundary with the Pacific Plate drawn as the San Andreas and Queen Charlotte Faults. But the newly delineated boundary is much wider, approximately 1500 km, than the previously drawn narrow zone.

Journal Reference:
Derrick Hasterok, Jacqueline A. Halpin et al, New Maps of Global Geological Provinces and Tectonic Plates, Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 231, 2022,

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  • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday June 21, @05:54PM (1 child)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Tuesday June 21, @05:54PM (#1254962) Journal

    I think of continents as analogous to mounds of foam on the surface of a hot drink. 1958 was a watershed year in geologic science, when the basic idea of Plate Tectonics became widely accepted. This work looks to be an update. Yet I wonder if the thinking is still too focused on the surface, because that's where we live, of course. Also, it's what we can most readily observe.

    If we could better map the composition and temperature distribution of the mantle, what would we see? When I examined a globe as a kid, I at once saw that the coasts of South America and Africa looked like they fit together like neighboring jigsaw puzzle pieces. No one living in the middle Ages could have seen that, as the world wasn't mapped, and South America was completely unknown to the Eurasians. I still find it amazing that the interior of the Earth is as hot as it is. The 2 main sources of all that heat are leftover heat from the time of Earth's formation, and the decay of radioactive elements. Seems heat from the sun plays only a minor role in the Earth's interior temperature.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, @08:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 21, @08:51PM (#1255052)

    From my even larger perspective, the Earth's radius is a mere 6000km of which about 6km (0.1%) is the surface, where I have neglected the oceans as an insignificant rounding error. That's how big I think.