Giant Pieces of Rock Get Stuck on the Descent into our Planet’s Core – What’s the Reason?

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Some new intriguing findings about our planet have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Earth is in a continual state of flow and throughout the time, hot rocks move up from the molten core of the planet, while colder rocks descend. However, this interchange that constantly takes places is broken. For some unknown reason, something happened that interfered with this system, which is called mantle convection, and as a result of this, a strange geophysical phenomenon emerged, named by the scientists “stagnant slabs”.

So what happens exactly?

Apparently, these slabs are some huge pieces of subducted oceanic plate that is getting stuck on its way descending to Earth. A couple of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder believe that they might have an answer to the mysterious question as to why these slabs are stagnating. Shijie Zhong, who is a physicist and a co-author of the new study, explained that the mantle convection is what “drives” the events that take place on the surface of Earth, such as earthquakes, volcanos, mountain building and others. However, he mentions that the whole thing could be more complex than previously thought.

This matter was studied for a decade without much advance

This phenomenon has been studied for the last decade, but it looks like not much improvement was made, as the reason behind what happens remains debatable. There is a new theory proposed by Zhong and fellow researcher Wei Mao, which is detailed in the recent paper. They propose that a layer of obstructive material might exist between the upper and lower mantles of our planet, approximately 660 kilometers below the surface. When the slabs get stuck, they extend horizontally at the mentioned depth, known as the transition zone. This strange phenomenon has been noticed in the western Pacific Ocean, off Japan’s east coast and below the Mariana Trench.

Patrick Supernaw

Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here