STEVE GRAND, TEXAS UNIVERSITY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEVE GRAND, TEXAS UNIVERSITY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Earth's deep rock slabs. Real data on a cut-away of Earth showing movement of deep slabs of rock in the mantle. The rock slabs sink (blue) through the mantle (yellow) as part of the deep convection system that drives plate tectonics. Red areas in the mantle represent rising, hot, molten rock. The sinking slabs, including one (at upper left) descending from the Caribbean, are up to 1500 kilometres (km) across & buried up to 2900km deep. The deep rock slabs can be detected by measuring the arrival times at points around the world of seismic shear waves produced by earthquakes. These waves travel faster through cool, dense rock.
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