New study says plate tectonics began early in Earth’s formation

Judging from the collision and friction between tectonic plates, the Earth’s “activity” is still quite high. Iceland’s Singh Wedley Park, for example, has a valley formed by two tectonic plates far away from each other. But a new yale study traces the historical origins of tectonic plates. It turned out that it had begun soon after the formation of the planet, a billion years ahead of the current academic consensus.

New study says plate tectonics began early in Earth's formation

Next-star b Imagination (from: ESO / M. Kornmesser, via Yale University)

It is reported that the earth’s crust is made up of hard rocks that slide along the top of the flowing mantle. But it is not a whole, but is divided into tectonic plates and then gradually moves around the surface.

This process forms deep-sea trenches, huge mountains, continents themselves, and even events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Based on a series of geological evidence, it is generally accepted in the academic community that tectonic plate movement began 3 to 3.5 billion years ago.

There is, however, an obvious problem — that, in essence, the activity of tectonic plates is likely to erase the traces it has left behind.

“This is a long-standing problem, and over time, we will find fewer geological records,” said Jun Korenaga, senior author of the study.

To resolve this difficulty, the Yale team decided to go back to another clue that was not easy to erase — the amount of argon in the air ( argon / element 18) in the air.

New study says plate tectonics began early in Earth's formation

(Study map – 1: Distribution of observation constraints and successful model solutions)

As an inert gas, it is also the third highest gas in the Earth’s atmosphere today, and most of it is caused by radioactive decay in the Earth’s crust. In addition, the self-weight of argon determines that it will not escape into space.

Based on this, the team conducted a chemical simulation of the early Earth, taking into account the amount of argon produced by other methods, and ultimately pushed the history of plate tectonic activity back to 4.4 billion years ago — about 100 million years after the formation of the Earth itself.

Yet another earlier study offered a very different view (it began only 600 million years ago) on the grounds of the disastrous “snowball Earth” event.

Details of the new study have been published in the recent journal Science Advances.

Originally published as Argons ics on the early growth of felsic continental crust.