Earth's Mystery Core Plumbed
Japanese geophysicist floats theory of lifecycle for Earth's plates
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2008 9:32 AM CST
Maruyama Shigenori is convinced that he understands what happens deep below our feet: "The continental drift that we observe on the surface of the Earth has its counterpart in the Earth's mantle. Old,...   (Index Stock)
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(Newser) – Climate change has sparked heated debate about the Earth’s surface, but a controversial new theory is directing scientists to its core, Der Spiegel reports. To explain why contintental plates drift on the surface of the Earth's molten mantle, Maruyama Shigenori, a leading geophysicist, argues that continents actually have life cycles. Old, cold plates on continental fringes sink to “plate graveyards” deep in the Earth’s mantle, and then rise again, creating volcanoes.

“School textbooks will soon have to be revised or at least supplemented,” one geophysicist said. "Up until now, the movement of the continental plates has been generally described as a two-dimensional phenomenon, but today experts agree that it's fueled by three-dimensional convection movements deep below the surface."