For the first 500 million years of its existence and development, the Earth was a harsh place. The new study shows the development of the planet boiled down to the formation of many new continents by the Earth, and then their absorption, leaving only minor traces after these processes. The scientists believe that these continents have been able to adapt to rapidly changing situations.
They knew how to live quickly and die young, but at the same time paved the way to the solid continents, ensuring the formation of plate tectonics. The study was conducted by the experts from Monash University.
According to lead researcher Fabio Capitanio, the results explain why individual continents remained weak and prone to collapse early in their development. And after 4-4.5 billion years, the core of modern continents was formed on the basis. For hundreds of millions of years, all continents that exist today have been relatively stable.
They could be set in motion due to tectonic influences that controlled the Earth's crust, while the continents took on different shapes. A striking example is the ancient continent of Pangea. But some pieces of those ancient continental puzzles can still be found today.
There is very little information about them, but they can reveal the data of the beginning of the history of the Earth. To do that, the scientists created computer simulations where rocks and magma in and below the Earth's crust interact.
It turned out that in this case, the earliest continents could have formed in the upper part of the mantle, just below the Earth's crust. It melted, reached the surface and erupted through landscape formations in the form of powerful volcanic eruptions. It generated a lot of heat. It caused the process of melting molten rocks protruding to the surface of the planet.
This is how the continent of Hadei was formed about 4 billion years ago, but the scientists recognized it as weak and prone to destruction. Modern continents have incredibly high strength. If they did not have it, huge faults could form between them, through which magma would constantly seep, devouring new continents.