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Evidence of Earth's Collision with Theia Found on Buried Planet

Scientists believe they have found evidence that the giant Moon-forming impact between Earth and Theia left behind extraterrestrial rock under the Earth’s surface

By Francis DamiPublished 8 months ago 4 min read
Researchers think they have found proof that Earth and Theia collided around 4.5 billion years ago.

Geologists discovered two enormous continent-sized masses in the 1980s while scanning at a depth of 1,800 miles (2,900 km) below the surface of the Earth. The mantle is a solid region of silicate rock that sits between the Earth's crust and the molten inner core.

The nature and origin of these masses have baffled scientists for almost 40 years, but a recent study suggests that these strange anomalies are actually the remains of a long-destroyed planet called Theia. It is believed that Theia collided with Earth 4.5 billion years ago with such force that the Moon was formed from the debris field that resulted.

Two massive objects, or blobs, buried deep in the Earth's mantle may be remnants of Theia's mantle, according to a team of planetary scientists from Arizona State University and the California Institute of Technology, who made this theory in a recent study published in Nature. These were left behind when our home planet was still formed and this roving object the size of Mars crashed with Earth.

As a result of their tremendous momentum, these masses may have been driven into the ground with enough force to penetrate deep below the Earth's surface, even though much of the doomed planet was liquefied in the collision.

This would account for the presence of the two continent-sized anomalies, which were discovered via seismic imaging beneath the African landmass in one case and beneath the floor of the Pacific Ocean in the other.

Theia was always present, right beneath our feet.

The scientists provide the results of computer simulations that faithfully reproduce the outcomes of the impact between Theia and Earth in favor of this deep penetration theory. These were predicated on the notion that Theia had the attributes that scientists had previously established it required to have.

The researchers demonstrated that a scenario similar to the one described above was a possible result of this catastrophic catastrophe using the most recent advancements in state-of-the-art simulation technology.

Planetary scientists have determined that Theia's mantle was around 3.5 percent denser than Earth's based on studies of minerals recovered from the Moon, a body made up of pieces of both the Earth and ancient Theia.

This is extremely significant since, following their initial penetration, the remaining chunks of the planet would have continued to sink deeper and deeper into the Earth's mantle due to the density of the Theian mantle, only stopping when they approached the edge of the planet's thicker outer core.

From Arizona State University and the California Institute of Technology have hypothesized a scenario in which the remnants of Theia's mantle would have been far smaller than the massive blobs that are currently lodged deep beneath the Earth's surface.

However, they would have been placed so close together that, upon sinking, they would have combined to create the much bigger anomalous things that are currently visible on the deep Earth seismic photographs.

The two enormous rocky clusters are bigger than their sister, the Moon. In line with their extraterrestrial origin, they are also notably hotter and denser than the nearby rock.

Geodynamics researcher and lead study author Qian Yuan noted that it was "very, very strange" that no evidence of the Theia impact had ever been found on Earth's surface in an interview with France 24, the French news service. Long fascinated by this oddity, Yuan eventually started to wonder if surviving pieces of Theian material might be found somewhere under the ground.

At that moment, he connected his conjecture to the two massive anomalous blobs that are actually buried deep beneath the surface of our planet. He was sufficiently intrigued to set up the new investigation into these subterranean masses. The deep mantle penetration theory is supported by the research's findings. The impactor is where? "It's in the Earth, is my response," Yuan screamed.

Yuan claims that Theia was traveling faster than six miles per second (9.7 kilometers per second) when it collided with Earth. This might have propelled it through the crust and deep into the mantle at a speed sufficient to accomplish so.

The heat from the collision would have mostly melted the Theian mantle material, but as it cooled and solidified, it would have started to descend and eventually reach the boundary that divides the Earth's mantle from its core. The Moon, the "child" of the Earth-Theia collision, has relatively high amounts of iron oxide, which suggests that its high iron content contributed to its additional density.

Theia's Tough Landing and Its Amazing Outcome

The collision between Earth and Theia not only produced the massive cloud of debris that eventually gave rise to the Moon, but it also drastically altered the conditions on the former planet almost instantly. It has been suggested by other studies that Theia is responsible for bringing water to Earth. If this is accurate, it implies that life on Earth would not have arisen in the absence of this planetary disaster.

It's interesting to note that the abnormal blobs themselves have contributed to Earth's evolutionary past. Large low-shear-velocity provinces (LLVPs) are the scientific name for these hot, rocky conglomerations. Occasionally, these LLVPs will send magma columns surging toward the Earth's surface, boosting inner volcano-like activity.

They also had a role in the processes that gave the Earth its current look, as they were linked to the formation of the supercontinents that gave rise to the current continents. According to Yuan, "something that Theia left on the Earth played a role in Earth's subsequent 4.5 billion years of evolution."

It is obvious that Theia's arrival was a blessing, even though its "landing" was not quite smooth, given that the Moon is also necessary for life on Earth to exist (its gravitational pull regulates the climate by controlling the tides and the wobble of the Earth's axis).

ScienceNatureClimate

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Francis Dami

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    Francis DamiWritten by Francis Dami

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