Geophysics

Bombardment-driven early tectonics

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Science  17 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6365, pp. 883-884
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6365.883-g

Earth's early history 4 billion years ago was dominated by impact cratering. The impacts delivered energy to Earth, but now O'Neill et al. suggest that they may also have driven surface tectonics. Simulations show that large impacts produced enough heat to induce the mantle to upwell, driving local crustal subduction. This may help explain why there is an abundance of the mineral zircon found in Earth's oldest rocks. It may also help solve the puzzle of why these minerals appear to have recorded a very early magnetic field.

Nat. Geosci. 10.1038/NGEO3029 (2017).

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