Huge mountains bigger than Everest found 400 miles BENEATH surface


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SHOCK DISCOVERY: Huge mountains bigger than Everest found 400 miles BENEATH surface (Image: GETTY)

In 1994, a massive 8.2 magnitude quake struck Bolivia, sending shockwaves through the planet’s interior. Those shockwaves have since allowed scientists an unprecedented look at what is happening deep beneath the surface and to make the discovery of a mountain range which could be bigger than Everest. The waves reflect and change shape as they pass through different objects, and that is how scientists were able to determine that they were there.

The mountains push up into layers of rock above, which are much less dense and not as solid as the hilly areas beneath.

Lead author Wenbo Wu, a geoscientist at the California Institute of Technology, said: "We know that almost all objects have surface roughness and therefore scatter light. That's why we can see these objects – the scattering waves carry the information about the surface's roughness.

"In this study, we investigated scattered seismic waves travelling inside the Earth to constrain the roughness of the Earth's 660 kilometer boundary."

Seismologist Christine Houser, an assistant professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who was not involved in this research, added: "They find that Earth's deep layers are just as complicated as what we observe at the surface.

To find two mile (1-3 km) elevation changes on a boundary that is over 400 miles (660 km) deep using waves that travel through the entire Earth and back is an inspiring feat.

"Their findings suggest that as earthquakes occur and seismic instruments become more sophisticated and expand into new areas, we will continue to detect new small-scale signals which reveal new properties of Earth's layers."

The findings allow the researchers have a clearer insight into Earth’s tectonic plates and its mantles, as well as painting a clearer picture of what the future holds.

Princeton geophysicist Jessica Irving, who co-authored the study published in the journal Science, said: "It's easy to assume, given we can only detect seismic waves traveling through the Earth in its current state, that seismologists can't help understand how Earth's interior has changed over the past 4.5 billion years.

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The mountain range in the planet's interior (Image: Kyle McKernan, Office of Communications)

What's exciting about these results is that they give us new information to understand the fate of ancient tectonic plates which have descended into the mantle, and where ancient mantle material might still reside.

"Seismology is most exciting when it lets us better understand our planet's interior in both space and time."

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