Tiny minerals may have shaped Earth's first plate boundaries

Weakened rock may explain the origin of plate tectonics, a simulation finds

By Naomi Lubick, 16:43 PM April 4, 2014

The first ruptures in early Earth's skin formed because of the weakness of rock minerals merely a millimeter wide, two scientists propose. The small minerals’ behavior created boundaries defining Earth’s first crustal plates and set the stage for plate tectonics, according to a new computer simulation appearing April 6 in Nature.

Plate tectonics is special to Earth: The planet’s crust is divided into giant, mobile plates. A plate can bump up against another plate at a fault zone, or dive benea...

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