Journey to the Center of the Earth? Newly discovered underground mountains compete with Everest



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Even after avoiding lightning bolts, encountering live dinosaurs and something that could very well be Bigfoot, and being vomited by a monster volcano, there's one thing that even Jules Verne's Professor Lidenbrock did not see when he ventured to the center of our planet.

There are mountains in the bowels of the earth. Gigantic mountains so gigantic that even Mount Everest has nothing, if we believe what scientists have discovered in a new study published in Science. It is from the seismic data of a 1994 earthquake in Bolivia that Princeton geophysicists Wenbo Wu, Jessica Irving, and their colleagues have really sought to understand that mountains are not just part of the surface of the earth. our planet, but also of its entrails.

When there is a major geological disturbance such as an asteroid crash or an earthquake, seismic waves are the ripples of energy that cross the Earth and bounce off various minerals, structures and textures. Think about how light waves bounce off an object in the phenomenon otherwise known as reflection. Imagine now that seismic waves cross the mantle and bounce off the 660-kilometer gap, the boundary between this dense layer of silicate rock at a higher and lower level – and perhaps even higher.

Seismic waves are also one of the only ways to "see" the Earth's interior, as long as we do not have enough advanced technology to dive into this depth. Whatever their origin, it gives us an idea of ​​what the Earth looks like inland. In this case, they bounced off a mountain range that could exceed Everest or even Mount Everest in some places.

"We need big earthquakes to allow the seismic waves to cross the mantle and the core, to bounce off the 660-kilometer gap and to go back across the Earth to be detected at the top of the crust," said Irving. to the motherboard.

Wu, Irving and their team were able to determine the topography of the boundary after analyzing the measurements of the 1994 earthquake (the second largest earthquake ever recorded at a scale of 8.2 on the Richter scale) with the supercomputer cluster of Princeton's Tiger. There is no way to get an exact height on these subterranean tops at the 660-kilometer border, but Irving said they "could be bigger than Everest."

What formed those mountains that Professor Lidenbrock would probably have marveled at? It is possible that pieces of the old seabed collapsed under the mantle and accumulated in these mountains. This could mean that pieces of Earth dating from its creation are simply waiting to be discovered and, along with them, clues to planetary evolution that could apply to worlds beyond the earth. rock on which we live.

Will we ever really go to the center of the Earth and climb those huge peaks? For the moment, only a really great sci-fi author could take us there.

(via the motherboard)

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