Scientists have identified the first evidence of a tectonic plate peeling into two separate layers under the ocean. The discovery has come from an area that recorded an earthquake and tsunami.
In 1969, a giant earthquake off the coast of Portugal was responsible for a tsunami that killed over a dozen people in the same location. An uncommon factor as earthquakes usually occur when cracks in the Earth’s crust release energy.
Speaking at the European Geosciences Union meeting, marine geologist Joao Duarte offered an answer to the previously unexplained events.
He explained the earthquakes may have been caused by the top layer of tectonic plate peeling off the bottom layer a phenomenon that has never been observed before.
Research indicates this peeling may be the catalyst for one plate to start grinding beneath another, which could be creating a subduction zone.
Duarte admitted it was “a big statement” that required further research. “Maybe this is not the solution to all the problems. But I think we have something new here.”
“It’s one of the biggest unsolved problems in plate tectonics,” he said. He believes the finding is evidence the Atlantic Ocean may be shrinking and sending Europe inching toward Canada.
Duarte and his co-authors are currently getting their research ready to submit for publication so it can be peer-reviewed.