Earth  Planets and Moons  ID: 13025

NASA Scientist Reveals Greenland's Geologic Past

We tend to think of Earth's landmasses as being fixed in place, but in reality they are attached to moving tectonic plates that constantly jostle for position. In some areas these tectonic plates slide over a hotspot – an upwelling of magma from deep in the mantle that can leave behind a geologic "scar" in the crust.

Now, a NASA scientist and her colleagues have used anomalies in Greenland's crustal magnetic field to derive its geothermal heat flux, allowing them to effectively peer beneath Greenland's thick ice sheet and into the crust itself. What they found was a thermal track in Greenland's bedrock that records the motions of the North American tectonic plate over geologic time.

This finding helps scientists to better understand the movement of Greenland, as it was slowly pushed over the hotspot that is now located under neighboring Iceland. It also serves as a reminder that nothing stands still over geologic time, and that even the largest landmasses are constantly being reshaped by our dynamic planet.

Learn more about this finding.

 

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Credits

Yasmina Martos (University of Maryland College Park):
Scientist

Dan Gallagher (USRA):
Lead Producer
Animator
Narrator

Ernie Wright (USRA):
Lead Animator

Lonnie Shekhtman (ADNET):
Science Writer

Jefferson Beck (USRA):
Producer

Rich Melnick (KBRwyle):
Project Support

Aaron E. Lepsch (ADNET):
Support

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Keywords:
DLESE >> Geology
DLESE >> Geophysics
SVS >> HDTV
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Geothermal
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Tectonics
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Geomagnetism >> Magnetic Anomalies
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Geothermal >> Geothermal Temperature
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Volcanoes >> Lava
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Volcanoes >> Magma
GCMD >> Location >> Greenland
GCMD >> Location >> Iceland
GCMD >> Location >> Crust
GCMD >> Location >> Mantle
SVS >> Geology
SVS >> Tectonic Plates
NASA Science >> Earth
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Hot Spot
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Gravity/gravitational Field >> Crustal Motion
SVS >> History

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0