Ancient, gigantic rock regions as large as continents exist hundreds of miles below the Earth's crust and could be as old as the planet itself, according to a new study.
The study used models to trace the location and origin of volcanic rock samples found across the globe back to two solid continents buried in the planet's deep mantle. The findings, published in the Journal of Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, suggest these large rock regions have existed for some 4.5 billion years.
Scientists previously hypothesized that these buried continents came from subducted ocean plates.
indicates that they may have been formed from an ancient magma ocean that became solid during the planet's early formation and may have survived the impact that the Moon created.
Study co-authored by Curtis Williams, a geologist at the University of California-Davis, told GeoSpace it's amazing that these unique regions have survived most of Earth's turbulent volcanic history relatively untouched.
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Being able to have a sense of these rock masses will help geologists have a better grasp on
Williams and his colleagues compiled new and existing data on samples from Hawaii, Iceland and other locations, according to LiveScience, then identified samples that carry certain ancient isotopes and tried
The researchers reportedly developed a model that noted the strange movement of deep mantle plumes and were then able to trace certain samples back to the underground regions.
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