Scientists find hole in the earths crust

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Scientists find hole in the earths crust

Imagine a cut that never heals, that seems to be the case in this massive hole where the earths crust seems to be missing.

Scientists are to sail to the mid-Atlantic to examine a massive "open wound" on the Earth's surface.

Dr Chris MacLeod, from Cardiff University, said the Earth's crust appeared to be completely missing in an area thousands of kilometres across.

The hole in the crust is midway between the Cape Verde Islands and the Caribbean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

The team will survey the area, up to 5km (3 miles) under the surface, from ocean research vessel RRS James Cook.

The ship is on its inaugural voyage after being named in
Dr MacLeod said the hole in the Earth's crust was not unique, but was recognised as one of the most significant.

He said it was an "open wound on the surface of the Earth", where the oceanic crust, usually 6-7km thick (3.7-4.3 miles), was simply not there.

"Usually the plates are pulled apart and to fill the gap the mantle underneath has to rise up. As it comes up it starts to melt. That forms the magma," he said.

"That's the normal process. Here it has gone awry for some reason.

"The crust does not seem to be repairing itself."

Dr MacLeod said the research could lead to a "new way of understanding" the process of plate tectonics.

The scientist will test theories he developed after visiting the area in 2001 - including the possibility the missing crust was caused by a "detachment fracture".

"Effectively it's a huge rupture - one side is being pulled away from the other. It's created a rupture so big it's actually pulled the entire crust away.

"We also think the mantle did not melt as much as usual and that the normal amount of mantle was not produced."

As a result, the mantle is exposed to seawater, creating a rock called serpentinite.

Much more on the site.
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/...
By netchicken: posted on 2-3-2007








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