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How were the continents formed?  A new study casts doubt on the previous origin theory

How were the continents formed? A new study casts doubt on the previous origin theory

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from: Nadia Zensmeester

Two researchers disprove a previously accepted theory of how Earth’s continents formed. In one study, they provide new insights.

FRANKFURT – The fact that the Earth offers conditions for life is due, among other things, to the continental tectonic plates in the middle of the oceans of this world. Without them, the habitat of humans and many animal species would not exist today. In addition to elements such as water and oxygen, continents are among the most important prerequisites for life on Earth to be possible. Now researchers have developed a new theory of how our continents originally formed.

Earth is still a mystery in many ways. Another theory, for example, deals with the question of why aliens have not yet contacted Earth.

Continental formation: Is the previous theory about Earth wrong?

Generally there is one fixed hypothesisWhy are there continental plates on Earth at all? Scientists assume that continental plates are poorer in iron than oceanic plates. The low-iron composition sometimes ensures that the plates are above sea level – thus representing one of the building blocks of the continents.

Continents enable life on Earth. But how did they come? © Ian Cuming / Imago Images

Based on this theory, it became 2018 Study in Science Journal Sciences Publication that investigated the cause of low iron composition in continental plates. At the time, researchers Ming Tang, Graham Eldridge, Cin-Ty Lee, and researcher Monica Erdman of Rice University in Houston came to the conclusion that the chemistry of the reduced iron in the Earth’s plates is probably due to the crystallization of the mineral garnet.

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The researchers are sure: the Earth’s continents formed in a different way than is assumed

A new study wants to disprove this claim. Researchers Megan Holycross and Elizabeth Cottrell of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington tested the theory and came to a different conclusion. Ha The study is published May 4 in the journal Sciences published. About the first results were the magazine popular science And Sciences mentioned. Scientists came across a detail of the theory from 2018 that they didn’t understand. “You need high pressure to make the agate stable. And you find these iron-poor magmas in places where the crust is not as thick and so the pressure is not high.” popular science Co-author Cottrell released a statement.

They then set out to test, in several ways, whether crystallization of opal was indeed necessary for the formation of continental plates. To do this, the researchers created the same pressure and temperature conditions in a special piston cylinder press as prevailing in magma chambers deep in the Earth’s crust. For comparison, the pressure is about 8,000 times higher than in a sealed can of lemonade. They could then melt down the rock and grow garnet samples.

The earth consists of different layers.  From outside to inside: Earth's crust, Earth's mantle (upper and lower), outer core and inner core.  (Icon picture)
The earth consists of different layers. From outside to inside: Earth’s crust, Earth’s mantle (upper and lower), outer core and inner core. © IMAGO / Zoonar.com / Cigdem Simsek

A new study wants to develop a theory about the formation of the continents on Earth

Cottrell and Holicros concluded that not enough oxidized iron could have accumulated in the different garnet samples to explain the iron-poor composition of plate tectonics. “These results make the agate crystal model a very unlikely explanation for why magma from continental arc volcanoes is oxidized and iron deficient,” Culture Pop Art Researcher Cottrell continues.

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Instead, researchers hypothesize that sulfur oxidizes iron and thus could be a cause of low iron formation. The new groundbreaking theory is now being studied by another scientist at the institute under the direction of Elisabeth Cortell, according to the journal. Sciences . (NZ)