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Science & Technology

'Lost world' of mountains hidden under our feet

By T.K. Randall
February 15, 2019 · Comment icon 6 comments



It's an alien world down there. Image Credit: NASA
Vast mountains that could be taller than Mt Everest are thought to exist hundreds of miles beneath the ground.
The remarkable discovery was made by a team of geophysicists from China and the US who used the echoes of a major earthquake to piece together what the subterranean topography is actually like.

The technique is similar to using ultrasound to identify differences in the density of tissue in the human body.

"We know that almost all objects have surface roughness and therefore scatter light," said study lead author Wenbo Wu. "That's why we can see these objects - the scattering waves carry the information about the surface's roughness."
"In this study, we investigated scattered seismic waves travelling inside the Earth to constrain the roughness of the Earth's 660 kilometer boundary."

The results were more impressive than anyone had expected, revealing that the mysterious terrain that lies hundreds of miles beneath our feet is like something out of a Jules Verne novel.

These subterranean mountain ranges are comparable in size to the Rocky Mountains or Appalachians and it is possible that some of the individual peaks could be taller than Mt. Everest.

"What's exciting about these results is that they give us new information to understand the fate of ancient tectonic plates which have descended into the mantle, and where ancient mantle material might still reside," said geoscientist Jessica Irving.

Source: Science Alert | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
That is pretty cool I'll bet they can find some pretty nice resources and historically significant and educational material this way as well.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
If memory serves:  there have been as many as 17 mountain ranges where the Laurentian Shield is now. The Front Range is the third range of mountains to stand on that site. The Wind River Range in Wyoming was once buried under outwash from nearby mountains. And we have another one buried under sedimentary rocks in southern Oklahoma.  About that one:  there's a long-abandoned river delta buried there, too.  The old stream channels contain oil.  One little oil company figured out that if they drilled in the stream channels, they got the oil and if they drilled between them, they got dry holes.  S... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
This makes me wonder if there are archaeological remnants/relics hiding down there forever lost to our abilities to study them...
Comment icon #4 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 4 years ago
The article has a link to another one about the deepest hole in the world, which is interesting and more accessible to a humble layman like me.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Ogbin 4 years ago
 Could Jules Verne had been on to something? 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Tatetopa 4 years ago
My dad was doing that as a geologist for a small company in Texas before he died in 1994.  Ancient rivers  become submerged under a more recent sea.  He was looking at meanders and sandbars.  Non-porous rock under the river bed covered by a sand and gravel bar, later capped by limestone on the sea bottom makes a nice little pocket to trap oil.  They are relatively small reservoirs, so a lot of big companies weren't interested.  He found 5 or 6.  


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