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Challenge #157

Mapping inaccessible regions.

No drilling has ever been done deeper than 12 kilometers–the Earth's deep interior remains inaccessible–but with indirect observations and modeling, we can still find out what it looks like down there. 

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We will never be able to penetrate the Earth's deep interior ourselves. But we can try to piece together individual pieces of information like puzzle pieces to form a reasonably consistent picture of the Earth's interior. One of the most fascinating inaccessible regions in the Earth's interior are so-called mantle plumes. These are places of upwelling hot material from the depths of the Earth's mantle that are believed to be located beneath volcanic islands such as Hawaii, the Canary Islands, or La Réunion. Since they are particularly difficult to observe, we make models of them. We compare the results of the modeling with observations of the plumes to try to get a coherent picture of the area. Exploring the Earth's interior can lead to important insights. For example, a possible plume under West Antarctica could cause the Earth's crust of ice sheet to rise rapidly when some of the ice melts. This would protect the remaining glaciers from water access and prevent further sea level rise.

Image: Joris Beugels/Unsplash

A Film about the Creation of Iceland

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