Scientists discover underground 'mountains' on Earth's core five-times taller than Mt. Everest
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Featured Image Credit: Edward Garnero and Mingming Li/Arizona State University / Getty stock
A new study has uncovered an ancient layer between the Earth’s core and the mantle that could be 'five times taller than Mount Everest'.
Since Mount Everest is famous for being the highest peak in the world, standing at a height of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet) above sea level, these findings are mind-blowing.
Just imagine what we've all been walking on top of without realizing?!
But now, thanks to the discovery made by scientists who were part of the University of Alabama’s study published in the journal Science Advances in April, we know that there’s a thin but dense layer that sits at around 2,900 kilometers below the surface at the Core Mantle Boundary. This is where rocks meet the molten outer core of our planet.
The new data suggests this layer of ancient ocean floor was subducted underground long ago as the Earth’s places shifted, creating an ultra-low velocity zone (or ULVZ) which is more dense that the rest of the deep mantle and therefore slows seismic waves reverberating beneath the surface.
The University of Alabama's press release reads: "Through global-scale seismic imaging of Earth’s interior, research led by The University of Alabama revealed a layer between the core and the mantle that is likely a dense, yet thin, sunk ocean floor, according to results published today in Science Advances."
Geologist Samantha Hansen, from the University of Alabama, said: "Seismic investigations, such as ours, provide the highest resolution imaging of the interior structure of our planet, and we are finding that this structure is vastly more complicated than once thought.
“Our research provides important connections between shallow and deep Earth structure and the overall processes driving our planet.”
Hansen and the rest of the team conducted research from 15 different stations located in Antarctica by using seismic waves created by earthquakes to create a map of what the inside of Earth looks like.
The team found the unexpected energy within seconds of the boundary-reflected wave from the seismic data. Because of the properties of ULVZs, the scientists believe that the layer could have dramatic variations in height.
"The material's thickness varies from a few kilometers to [tens] of kilometers,” said Geophysicist Edward Garnero from Arizona State University. “This suggests we are seeing mountains on the core, in some places up to five times taller than Mt. Everest.”
These underground mountains could play a massive role in how heat escapes from the Earth’s core and power magnetic fields plus volcanic eruptions.
The layer could encase all of the Earth’s core, the team’s study suggests, but further research will need to be carried out to see if this is the case.
There's only one way to to mark these impressive findings. Alexa, play 'The Climb' by Miley Cyrus.