To create this big-picture three-dimensional view of inner Earth, University of Southern California geophysicist Thorsten Becker used seismic tomography, which tracks waves produced by earthquakes as they travel around and through the earth. "Mantle convections drive plate tectonics.So if we want to understand anything that happens on the surface geologically, from mountain-building to earthquakes, we need to understand the deep movements of the mantle."
The surprising longevity of Earth's geodynamo, as well as the inner core's glacial pace of cooling, is in stark contrast with that on Mars. A strong magnetic field once blocked streams of solar wind on the Red Planet, but that field vanished after just 500 million years. The lack of protection from solar radiation could explain why Earth is teeming with life, while Mars (may) harbor no life at all, according to a July study in the journal Science.
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