Washington: Researchers have provided a new insight on how continents formed early in Earth history.
A research led by a University of Calgary geophysicist provided strong evidence against continent formation above a hot mantle plume, similar to an environment that presently exists beneath the Hawaiian Islands.
The analysis indicates that the nuclei of Earth`s continents formed as a byproduct of mountain-building processes, by stacking up slabs of relatively cold oceanic crust, which created thick, strong `keels` in the Earth`s mantle that supported the overlying crust and enabled continents to form.
The Department of Geoscience`s Professor David Eaton developed computer software to enable numerical simulation of the slow diffusive cooling of Earth`s mantle over a time span of billions of years.
Working in collaboration with former graduate student, Assistant Professor Claire Perry from the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Eaton relied on the geological record of diamonds found in Africa to validate his innovative computer simulations.
The study has been published in Nature Geoscience.