Relationship between plate tectonics and life

Plate tectonics not needed to sustain life

relationship between plate tectonics and life

Plate tectonics may have helped facilitate the development of life on They then looked at the relationship of this accumulation with that of. Earth is the only planet in our solar system with both plate tectonics and life. Is there a connection?. There may be more habitable planets in the universe than we previously thought, according to Penn State geoscientists, who suggest that plate.

It needs access to the key ingredients of life, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous and sulphur. These elements support the basic chemistry of life as we know it, and the material, Spohn argues, must be regularly replenished. Plate tectonics - essential for life? It is an idea growing in popularity among planetary scientists. Imagine a top surface that is depleted of the nutrition needed for bacterial life. It needs to be replenished, and plate tectonics is a method of achieving this.?

Spohn found that the further he delved into the issue, the more important plate tectonics seemed to be for life.

For example, it is believed that life developed by moving from the ocean to the kind of strong and stable rock formations that are the result of tectonic action. Plate tectonics is also involved in the generation of a magnetic field by convection of Earth? This magnetic field protects life on Earth by deflecting the solar wind. Not only would an unimpeded solar wind erode our planet? Another factor is the recycling of carbonwhich is needed to stabilize the temperature here on Earth.

Now, if you have a planet without plate tectonics, you may have parts of this cycle, but it is broken because you do not have the recycling link.? It has also been speculated that the lack of tectonic action on Venus contributed to its runaway greenhouse effect, which resulted in the immense temperatures it has today.

relationship between plate tectonics and life

All this evidence adds up to paint a convincing picture of many lifeforms only surviving on worlds where plate tectonics are active. Still, astronomers suspect that as many as 40 billion potentially habitable Earth-size planets dot the galaxy. Scientists think plate tectonics, which acts as a global thermostat, might have been our savior by creating volcanoes that spewed carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, helping it to retain more heat.

Plate Tectonics Could Be Essential for Alien Life

Planets can, after all, be geologically active without plate tectonics. Just take a look at Mars, which boasts the largest volcano in the solar system. Still, that volcano no longer rumbles to life. In fact, most solar system planets and even dwarf planets and moons that were once geologically active are now quiet. Sliding Plates The latest study seems to contradict some previous investigations of whether or not exoplanets might shake like Earth.

Plate Tectonics Could Be Essential for Alien Life

In planetary scientist Diana Valencia, then at Harvard University, concluded that super-Earths rocky planets larger than ours are so likely to host plate tectonics, it is practically inevitable. Because planets more massive than Earth would retain significantly more internal heat from their initial formation, and because heat drives plate tectonics via the conveyor belt of sinking and rising rock within the mantleplate activity should be prolonged on such planets.

Because the stars and their planets are built from the same swirling disk of dust and gas, they tend to be made of the same stuff.

The researchers looked at nearly 1, stars including stars observed with the Kepler space telescope that astronomers know have orbiting exoplanets and then used computer models to discover how rocks of these varying compositions would react to the high interior temperatures and pressures formed in a planet.

Making the calculation involved rigorous modeling: Should the plate remain denser than the surrounding mantle then the plate would continue to sink.

The convection drive plates tectonics through a combination of pushing and spreading apart at mid-ocean ridges and pulling and sinking downward at subduction zones, researchers think.

relationship between plate tectonics and life

Scientists continue to study and debate the mechanisms that move the plates. Mid-ocean ridges are gaps between tectonic plates that mantle the Earth like seams on a baseball. Hot magma wells up at the ridges, forming new ocean crust and shoving the plates apart. At subduction zonestwo tectonic plates meet and one slides beneath the other back into the mantle, the layer underneath the crust.

relationship between plate tectonics and life

The cold, sinking plate pulls the crust behind it downward. Many spectacular volcanoes are found along subduction zones, such as the "Ring of Fire" that surrounds the Pacific Ocean. Plate boundaries Subduction zones, or convergent margins, are one of the three types of plate boundaries. The others are divergent and transform margins. At a divergent margin, two plates are spreading apart, as at seafloor-spreading ridges or continental rift zones such as the East Africa Rift.

Transform margins mark slip-sliding plates, such as California's San Andreas Faultwhere the North America and Pacific plates grind past each other with a mostly horizontal motion.

relationship between plate tectonics and life

Reconstructing the past While the Earth is 4. The oldest ocean rocks are found in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Fragments of continental crust are much older, with large chunks at least 3.