Dropping a wrench into Earth’s engine

❝ Researchers at CU Boulder report that they may have solved a geophysical mystery, pinning down the likely cause of a phenomenon that resembles a wrench in the engine of the planet.

…the team explored the physics of “stagnant slabs.” These geophysical oddities form when huge chunks of Earth’s oceanic plates are forced deep underground at the edges of certain continental plates. The chunks sink down into the planet’s interior for hundreds of miles until they suddenly—and for reasons scientists can’t explain—stop like a stalled car.

❝ CU Boulder’s Wei Mao and Shijie Zhong, however, may have found the reason for that halt. Using computer simulations, the researchers examined a series of stagnant slabs in the Pacific Ocean near Japan and the Philippines. They discovered that these cold rocks seem to be sliding on a thin layer of weak material lying at the boundary of the planet’s upper and lower mantle—roughly 660 kilometers, or 410 miles, below the surface.

And the stoppage is likely temporary

RTFA. Helluva movie plot – unless we suffer a blowout.

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