In a recent study, the researchers analyzed the seismic wave data gathered when the second-largest earthquake ever recorded in the world occurred in Bolivia, in 1994. The respective data revealed some puzzling structures. The scientists concluded that there are mountains higher than Everest deep inside Earth.
Our planet’s mantle is a dense layer of silicate rock that stretches from the crust to the Earth’s core. It accounts for 84% of the Earth’s volume. However, at 660 kilometers under the Earth’s surface, there is a region that divides Earth’s mantle into the so-called upper and lower levels, known as the “660-kilometer discontinuity.” Due to the density of the mantle, the scientists cannot scan what’s happening in that region of the planet, so the only way to estimate what’s deep inside Earth is via seismic wave data.
As the seismic waves propagate deep inside Earth, they encounter different materials and bounce off them. That permits researchers to reconstruct the formation present in that “660-kilometer discontinuity.”
Mountains Higher Than Everest Exist Deep Inside Earth
“We need big earthquakes to allow seismic waves to travel through the mantle and core, bounce off the 660-kilometer discontinuity, and travel all the way back through the Earth to be detected at the top of the crust,” explained Jessica Irving from the Princeton University, and one of the authors of the new study.
Jessica Irving and his colleagues analyzed the seismic wave data gathered during the earthquake that shook Bolivia in 1994, which was the second-largest earthquake ever recorded in the world to date. The researchers found that deep inside Earth, within the so-called 660-kilometer discontinuity, there are mountains higher than Everest.
“I can’t give you an estimated number. But the mountains on the 660-kilometer discontinuity could be bigger than Mount Everest,” said Jessica Irving. She added that those structures formed, most likely, because of the accumulation of old chunks of seafloor that got into the Earth’s mantle and eventually fell into the discontinuity.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.