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By Science Daily
Yale-led research may have solved one of the biggest mysteries in geology — namely, why do tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s surface, which normally shift over the course of tens to hundreds of millions of years, sometimes move abruptly?
A new study published Jan. 19 in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciencessays the answer comes down to two things: thick crustal plugs and weakened mineral grains. Those effects, acting together, may explain a range of relatively speedy moves among tectonic plates around the world, from Hawaii to East Timor.
Of course, in this case “speedy” still means a million years or longer.
“Our planet is probably most distinctly marked by the fact that it has plate tectonics,” said Yale geophysicist David Bercovici, lead author of the research. “Our work here looks at the evolution of plate tectonics. How and why do plates change directions over time?”
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