Since the 1970s, scientists have known about the mysterious masses of rock deep underground. Previous studies have shown that earthquakes repeatedly vibrate through the rest of the mantle at a steady pace, hitting massive hunks of stone. Scientists have identified the continents on the border of Earth's mantle and molten outer core due to these peculiar patterns of seismic activity. However, they are still not sure how these structures emerged.
According to Fox News, an American conservative pay television news channel, scientists have previously theorized that these buried continents came from subducted oceanic plates. However, a recent study suggested that these ancient, gigantic regions of rocks as large as continents could have existed for some 4.5 billion years. Curtis Williams, a geologist at the University of California, and his colleagues compiled new and existing data on geological samples from Hawaii, Iceland, the Balleny Islands in Antarctica and other regions. These are the places where hot rock bubbles up from the Earth’s core to the surface.
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The study which was published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems used a model developed by the researchers which noted the zig-zagging nature of deep mantle plumes. Thus, they were able to trace certain samples back to the underground continents. "It's a more robust framework to try and answer these questions in terms of not making these assumptions of vertically rising material but rather to take into account how much deflection these plumes have seen," Williams said.
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According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, the researchers concluded that the underground continents may be as old as the Earth itself. These masses of rock have likely survived the planet-rocking impact which first formed the Moon. This study will help geologists understand the ancient processes that gave the planet its current mantle.