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)
Mountains, Mantle, Earth