Illustration of Earth and its tectonic plates
An illustration of Earth and its tectonic plates with the moon in the background. Research indicates that mobile plate tectonics -- a process involving the horizontal movement and interaction of large plates below Earth’s surface, thought to be necessary for the creation of a habitable planet -- was not occurring on Earth 3.9 billion years ago (when the emergence of life first appeared).
[Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grants EAR 1656348 and EAR 2051550.]
Learn more in the University of Rochester news story Plate tectonics not required for the emergence of life. (Date of image: 2023; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: Aug 18, 2023)
Credit: Michael Osadciw/University of Rochester
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.
Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.
Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (134.6 KB)
Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.