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August 18, 2023

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

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