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The Deep Earth Machine Is Coming Together

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Science  05 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6128, pp. 22-24
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6128.22

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After sharpening their view of the planet's rocky inner workings for almost a century, scientists are finally glimpsing how the Earth engine as a whole is working. Since the plate tectonics revolution, researchers have recognized surface geology for a cold, rocky scum of continent carrying, ocean-crust-covered tectonic plates. But the nature of whatever might be carrying heat and material back toward the surface has been hotly debated for 40 years. Could towering plumes of hotter-than-normal rock be rising like lava lamp blobs from near the core? Decades of study now appear to be paying off.