An international group of scientists found evidence of an old hypothesis of the emergence of tectonic plates on Earth. According to this version, several billion years ago the outer shell of the Earth became hot, which caused its extension and division into individual pieces. The disclosure of the mysteries of the emergence of the continents reported in an article published in the journal Nature Commications.

The researchers used three-dimensional models of spherical shells in order to reproduce the mechanism of formation of tectonic plates. Under the old assumption, called the hypothesis of the expanding Earth and now rejected, the emergence of the continents caused by the expansion of the Earth, and the main argument in his favor was matching the contours of the continents that are supposedly able to gather back into a ball with a smaller diameter. However, the new hypothesis provides a slightly different mechanism involving the loss of heat through volcanic activity.

Scientists came to the conclusion that the volcano spewed hot rocks on the planet’s surface where they cooled and slowed the further withdrawal of heat from the interior. The result of lithospheric cooling of the earth’s crust was subjected to horizontal expansion with subsequent fragmentation and the emergence of lithospheric plates. It took about five million years.

At the same time, the researchers emphasize that they are still far from fully understanding what happened on the ancient Earth, hence the plate.