By rebuilding the underground map using data obtained from the strong earthquake that struck Bolivia in 1994, scientists have shown that within Earth, several hundred kilometers below our feet, there are ridges underground mountains dominate, equal to the height of the majestic Himalayas. The research was published in Science.
The mantle is one of the layers covering the Earth’s core made of silicate rock, extending from the outer shell to the core, making up 84% of the Earth’s volume. At a depth of about 670 km, there exists a transitional zone that clearly separates the upper and lower mantras. Based on solid evidence like rocks, scientists can conclude that the rocks in this region are much denser, but reading topographic maps here is extremely difficult.
One of the ways to check underground is to study the seismic waves – the waves running through the earth’s layers, appearing in Earth-shaking events such as earthquakes or the impact of a meteorite falling from the sky.
Geophysicist Jessica Irving from Princeton University, who is also the new author of the study, told Motherboard: “It takes a large earthquake to get enough earthquakes to pass through the mantle or reach the Earth’s core and bounce back. when bumped into the transition area, reappear on the shell to measure”.
Dubbed the second largest earthquake ever recorded, up to 8.2 on the Richter scale, the 1994 earthquake in Bolivia was a great research goal. The team of scientists used Princeton University’s supercomputer to analyze the available data, in order to redraw the structure of the earth as accurately as possible.
When rebuilding the underground geological structure, the researchers were unable to give the exact height of the underground peaks, only making estimates. “They have larger terrain structures than the Rocky Mountains or the Appalachian Mountains”, study author Wenbo Wu compares the underground mountains to the mountains in North America. “I can’t give an exact number, but the subterranean mountains in the transitional region are higher than Mount Everest”, Irving said.
Huge mountain ranges may have been created from part of the seabed: geological changes over the years have caused the seafloor to sink deeper, up to the transition zone more than 660 km above the surface. Precious fossils that can tell us about Earth’s development must have been there. Continuing to use seismic waves and supercomputers, scientists are eager to learn more about the majestic mountains deep underground.
“I think future studies will tell us more about the subterranean mountains, their dispersion across the Earth”, said Irving, a researcher.