r-newsEarth Science

How Vanished Oceans Drop an Anchor

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Science  17 Nov 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5239, pp. 1122
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5239.1122


At some subduction zones—deep trenches where ocean floor is consumed in the planet's interior—devastating earthquakes are common; others are peaceful. A new theory attributes the difference to the drag of deep, viscous rock on the descending ocean floor. Depending on its direction, this force can cause a subduction zone to jam, generating earthquakes, or keep it working smoothly.