Scientists Discover Long-Lost Tectonic Plate in West Pacific Ocean
Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of plate tectonics, identifying a long-lost tectonic plate in the west Pacific Ocean. The newly named plate, called Pontus, was once a massive 15 million square miles in size, approximately a quarter of the size of the Pacific Ocean today.
Through a combination of computer modeling and studying oceanic rocks, referred to as the “relics of Pontus,” researchers were able to uncover this ancient tectonic plate. This groundbreaking study was led by Suzanna Van de Lagemaat, a PhD candidate in plate tectonics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
The process of subduction, in which one lithospheric plate is forced below another, was responsible for the disappearance of Pontus over millions of years. As Pontus was slowly pulled down by gravity under a neighboring plate, its size gradually diminished. The plate is believed to have existed as far back as 160 million years ago, and as recently as 20 million years ago, although its size would have been significantly smaller by then.
The research focused on the complex plate tectonics in the region around the Philippines, with northern Borneo being identified as the key piece of the puzzle. By using magnetic techniques, scientists determined that the oceanic rocks found in Borneo were relics of Pontus, left behind when the plate subducted 85 million years ago.
Interestingly, the existence of Pontus had actually been predicted by experts at Utrecht University over a decade ago. Fragments of old tectonic plates found deep within the Earth’s mantle provided evidence for the existence of this lost plate. These fragments were traced into the Earth’s core-mantle boundary using seismic tomography.
The identification of Pontus and the understanding of plate movements have significant implications for our understanding of Earth’s geological history. By unraveling these mysteries, scientists gain valuable insights into the processes that have shaped our planet over millions of years.
This groundbreaking discovery not only sheds light on the hidden dynamics of our Earth but also highlights the importance of continued research in the field of plate tectonics. As we continue to uncover the secrets of these tectonic plates, our understanding of Earth’s past and future will expand, paving the way for further scientific advancements.
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