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Deep trenches in the Pacific could be ‘younger’ than scientists thought

Image: Texas A&M University

A team of international scientists that includes a Texas A&M University researcher has found that parts of the deep trenches in the Pacific Ocean are much “younger” than previously believed – perhaps as much as 50 million years – and this could change current beliefs about how such deep-ocean trenches form.

The team, which includes Kara Bogus of Texas A&M’s International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), has had its work published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

The discovery is significant, Bogus says, because “one of the biggest questions remaining in plate tectonics is how subduction zones start, or ‘initiate.’ When these plates push under each other into the Earth, hot magma is created that erupts from volcanoes on the surface plate, such as has occurred in the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s half the story in plate tectonics. We understand well the other half (how the plates move apart from each other and create new crust), but we are just beginning to understand this half.”

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