Written by Kumudu Jayawardana
28 Jan, 2014 | 1:09 am
Europe’s Goce gravity satellite has provided striking new visualizations of the Earth’s deep interior.
Its gravity data has enabled variations in the density of rock to be traced up to more than 2,000km below the surface.
The maps, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, help to show how material moves up and down, driving a range of geological phenomena.
These include subduction zones, where the great tectonic slabs covering the Earth’s surface dive under one another.
“Ultimately, volcanic activity and earthquakes occur because of these slow movements inside the Earth’s mantle,” explained Dr Isabelle Panet from the Paris Institute of Earth Physics, France.
“The volcanoes and earthquakes are, if you like, just the surface expression of these deep dynamics,” she told BBC News.
Researchers traditionally use seismic tomography to image the planet’s interior.
By tracking the speed at which waves of energy from tremors propagate through rock, scientists can determine density differences and hence the relative buoyancy of material.
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