What are the mysterious continent-sized ‘earth blobs’ deep inside our planet?

For a long time, planetary scientists have been making an attempt to know the origins of two colossal geological anomalies inside our planet. New insights counsel they might be leftovers from a cosmic collision


4 May 2022

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Stuart McReath

OUR planet is sort of a unhealthy cake in a cosmic baking contest. On inspection of the primary slice, the judges may say its layering is sort of neat. The crunchy crust sits on a solid-but-squidgy mantle, which wraps round a gooey outer core. But minimize one other slice and they’ll quickly see that one thing has gone awry. Looming contained in the neat layers are two big, messy lumps.

These two blobs are colossal. They are the scale of continents, protecting nearly a 3rd of the boundary between the core and the mantle. We additionally know that they’re hotter than their environment. But every part else about these blobs is mysterious, from what they’re product of and the place they got here from to how they have an effect on our planet at this time.

The quest to know them has to date verged on the quixotic. Geologists and planetary scientists are pursuing it with vigour, nonetheless, as a result of the blobs are more likely to be guarding some severe secrets and techniques. We are scrambling to get a greater image of those shadowy underworld titans, not least how historical they’re.

That is vital as a result of in the event that they become geologically youthful, it will counsel we live by way of a particular epoch. There have to be one thing notably unusual occurring down there, to supply such big oddities. Whereas “if these things are truly ancient”, says Sujoy Mukhopadhyay on the University of California, Davis, “it tells us something about how our planet formed”. And they may even shock us with a solution to an even bigger query, one which goes past parochial issues about our personal planet.

Since the late nineteenth century, geologists have …

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