Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Magma intrusions: What happens beneath your feet

When you consider plate tectonics we often think of hot magma bubbling up from the Earth’s mantle, and we remember the vast assortment of pictures that we"ve seen--images featuring hundreds of active volcanoes spewing forth smoke and lava, and the devastation that always follows. Gargantuan explosions that blow-off the caps of mountains and lava flooded landscapes dominate our imaginations. So it may surprise you to know that the vast majority of the molten rock that rises up into the Earth’s lithosphere never reaches the surface. Instead, it cools and solidifies to form coarser-grained igneous rocks beneath the ground.

So much of the landscape that we travel through every day is the product of tectonic activity that we almost take for granted the immense forces that formed it! Try think twice next time you’re walking along the road, you have no idea what is going on beneath your feet…

But if you want to find out what processes formed the ground you walk on (and what made that hill behind your apartment), take a look at this:

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