Last week, Kate Rychert had a news and views piece published in the journal Nature discussing the recent discovery of a sharp base to the lithosphere (<1km) beneath New Zealand (Nature Letter: A seismic reflection image for the base of a tectonic plate). Surprisingly, a 10 km thick low-seismic-velocity channel was also found at the base of the Pacific plate. This has been proposed as a very thin but weak layer that decouples the lithosphere from the underlying asthenosphere, thus allowing for plates at the earth’s surface to ‘slide’ over mantle below, as required for plate tectonics.
Kate’s summary and insights can be read in full here
Written by Caroline Eakin