PerspectiveGeology

Driving the Earth machine?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6214, pp. 1184-1185
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261831

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

The asthenosphere—derived from the Greek asthenēs, meaning weak—is the uppermost part of Earth's mantle, right below the tectonic plates that make up the solid lithosphere. First proposed by Barrell 100 years ago (1), the asthenosphere has traditionally been viewed as a passive region that decouples the moving tectonic plates from the mantle and provides magmas to the global spreading ridge system. Recent studies suggest that the asthenosphere may play a more active role as the source of the heat and magma responsible for intraplate volcanoes. Furthermore, it may have a major impact on plate tectonics and the pattern of mantle flow.