Reading the Earth's LIPS

May 27, 2015

Lip reading normally involves deciphering speech patterns, movements, gestures and expressions just by watching a person speak. Planet Earth has LIPS, too - they are an acronym for Large Igneous Provinces, huge accumulations of igneous rocks that form when hot magma extrudes from inside the Earth and flows onto the surface of the seafloor under several kilometres of water.

An international team of scientists including University of Sydney geophysicists Professor Dietmar Müller, Dr Simon Williams and Dr Maria Seton from the School of Geosciences have found a novel way to 'read the Earth's LIPS'. Their findings are reported in a Nature Geoscience article in which they show for the first time that LIPS have a close working relationship with underwater mountain ranges called mid-ocean ridges.

LIPS are known to form at hotspots where hot cylindrical upwellings called plumes are rising from the deep Earth's interior, intersecting the surface.

Professor Müller explains: "Conventional wisdom has it that these plumes, and their associated catastrophic LIPS, have no relationship to mid-ocean ridges where the slow divergence between tectonic plates gives rise to volcanism that steadily and continuously generates new ocean crust."

Now the research team has uncovered a previously missed connection between LIPS and mid-ocean ridges. They found that mantle plumes can anchor mid-ocean ridges over long periods of time, leading to a connection of mid-ocean ridges and hotspots that cannot easily be broken up.

This attraction of mid-ocean ridges to plumes promotes successive eruptions of LIPS near mid-ocean ridges over long time periods, resulting in a myriad of igneous extrusions on top of and next to each other.

"It is important in our understanding of LIPS in the ocean basins, as it means that not all LIPS form as giant eruptions over very short times, as was originally thought," said Dr Williams.

Unlike massive eruptions on continents, the undersea eruptions are not catastrophic and are unlikely to have caused mass extinctions and climate change. However, they are just as impressive in terms of volume.

Dr Seton adds: "It means that LIPS in the oceans are less dangerous to life on Earth, as they trickle out in many successive eruptions, not just one giant outpouring of lava, as LIPS on continents."

"The findings change our understanding of massive volcanism deep in the ocean basins", said Professor Müller. "For example, the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean, is over twice as big as New South Wales, and has acquired its massive size over tens of millions of years, whereas the similarly large Siberian Flood Basalts wiped out the majority of marine and land species on Earth within just 60,000 years."

University of Sydney

Related Relationship Articles from Brightsurf:

Relationship value and economic value are evaluated by the same part of the brain
Researchers from several Japanese universities have revealed that the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for calculating economic value, is also responsible for judging the value of relationships with friends based on the received commitment signals.

Genetics: Romantic relationship dynamics may be in our genes
Variations in a gene called CD38, which is involved in attachment behaviour in non-human animals, may be associated with human romantic relationship dynamics in daily life, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

The relationship between looking/listening and human emotions
Toyohashi University of Technology has indicated that the relationship between attentional states in response to pictures and sounds and the emotions elicited by them may be different in visual perception and auditory perception.

The brain's functional organization slows down following a relationship breakup
During a person's life, the experience of a stressful life event can lead to the development of depressive symptoms, even in a non-clinical population.

Aiming for an enduring relationship
Why do some couples stay together yet others split up?

Fungal diversity and its relationship to the future of forests
Stanford researchers predict that climate change will reduce the diversity of symbiotic fungi that help trees grow.

Evolution: Revelatory relationship
A new study of the ecology of an enigmatic group of novel unicellular organisms by scientists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich supports the idea hydrogen played an important role in the evolution of Eukaryota, the first nucleated cells.

Symbiosis as a tripartite relationship
While viruses are typically known for their pathogenic properties, new research findings now also demonstrate a positive influence of bacteriophages on the interaction of host organisms with bacteria.

Timing is everything for the mutualistic relationship between ants and acacias
Ant-acacia plants attract ants by offering specialized food and hollow thorns in which the ants live, while the ant colony in turn defends its acacia against herbivores.

Combing through someone's phone could lead to end of relationship -- or not
For some people, the thought of their partner, friend or colleague snooping through their phone, reading their texts and emails, is an automatic deal breaker.

Read More: Relationship News and Relationship Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to