Plate Tectonics May Grind To A Halt, Then Start Again
What are Plate Tectonics? Plate tectonics, the geologic process responsible for creating
the Earth's continents, mountain ranges, and ocean basins, may be an on-again, off-again
affair. Recent study at the Carnegie Institution suggests that plate tectonics may have
ground to a halt at least once in our planet's history, and may do so again. A key aspect of
plate tectonic theory is that on geologic time scales ocean basins are transient features,
opening and closing as plates shift. A process called subduction, where oceanic plates
descend into the Earth’s mantle, consumes basins. Subduction zones are the sites of
oceanic trenches, high earthquake activity, and most of the world's major volcanoes.
Mark Behn from Carnegie Institution pointed out that most of today's subduction zones
are located in the Pacific Ocean basin. If the Pacific basin were to close, as it is predicted
to do about in 350 million years when the westward-moving Americas collide with
Eurasia, then most of the planet's subduction zones would disappear with it. This would
effectively stop plate tectonics unless new subduction zones start up, but subduction
initiation is poorly understood. "If plate tectonics indeed starts and stops, then continental
evolution must be viewed in an entirely new light, since it dramatically broadens the
range of possible evolutionary scenarios," said Behn.
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predictions. Also, they interviewed people about their opinions.
Solar homes compete, and that’s cool UC team learns valuable lesson when house is put
to the test
By Justin Thompson / Scripps Howard Foundation Wire
The University of Cincinnati’s solar house went dim in the middle of a
competition, which stopped the chances of it taking a high placing in the Solar Decathlon.
The Solar Decathlon is an international competition to build the most attractive and most
efficient solar-powered house. The teams get 18 months to design and build their house.
Then they transport it to the National Mall in Washington. The UV team had to come up
with a way to pump energy into the house. They were not prepared for the influx that
comes with hundreds of visitors walking in and out of the 650 square foot home. The
Polytechnic University of Darmstadt, Germany, won the competition. The effect it has on
people is that they know to be more careful in making solar houses because they know