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Earth's continental plates reach at least 80 miles below the surface

NASA/Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid)

A new study published in Science has found continental plates reach 80-120 miles below the Earth's surface. As the Atlantic noted, that means "you're closer to the edge of space right now than you are to the bottom of a continental plate."

  • How they did it: By analyzing seismological data from Earth's continents, which the authors said "lines up well with the depth where diamonds are stable —an independent line of evidence for the depth of continents."
  • Why it matters: This information can help scientists understand how the plates move, and more precisely map out the composition of Earth's layers.
  • One remaining question: Whether the depth is a permanent feature of Earth or has changed over time.
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