Scientists have discovered a previously unknown “fingers” of heat, some of them thousands of miles long, in Earth’s upper mantle that may be acting as force beneath the planet’s surface.
The discovery helps explain the “hotspot volcanoes” that give birth to island chains such as Hawaii and Tahiti.
According to the researchers, many volcanoes arise at collision zones between the tectonic plates, but hotspot volcanoes form in the middle of the plates.
Scientists at the University of Maryland explain that these “fingers” were identified and mapped with the help of seismic waves.
Scientists say that, whenever an earthquake strikes, seismic waves are created. These waves of energy travel over long distances below the Earth’s surface. As they journey below our planet’s surface, these waves pass through layers that differ in terms of density and elasticity. Hence, the fact that they get altered.
Computer modelling approach, developed by University of Maryland seismologist Vedran Lekic and colleagues at the University of California Berkeley, has produced new seismic wave imagery which reveals that the rising plumes are, in fact, influenced by a pattern of finger-like structures carrying heat deep beneath Earth’s oceanic plates.
The study was published in the journal Science Express.