Plate Tectonics is the idea that the earth’s surface is composed of plates which move apart and reunite. Since 1960s this has been used to explain volcano and earthquake locations. The exact definition of the tectonic plates and their thicknesses has remained a hotly debated subject. This is because it has been difficult to define the bottom boundaries of these plates.
However, an idea of the plates’ thickness is essential to understand the movement of these both during their formation and when they go back into the earth. A new research conducted at the University of Minnesota and the University of Oxford, Twin Cities, by Jessica Warren and colleagues from the University of Delaware provides a new set of data to understand this problem.
They used olivine, an important mineral in the earth’s mantle, and mixed it with basalt to mimic newly created plates. They applied high temperatures and high pressures to investigate the influence of basalt on the alignment of olivine crystals to study the movement of these plates.
Their research data is expected to aid scientists to develop computer models and predict the risks and devastation extents of earthquakes and volcanic hazards.
Image Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/plate-tectonics-explained-video_n_6487420