TNRTB Archive – Retained for reference information
Recent research by a team of international scientists provides a powerful tool to understand a significant component of the plate tectonics that are so critical for sustained life on Earth. Adequate heating of the earth’s interior is largely responsible for the long-lasting tectonic activity the earth’s surface has experienced. A primary source of heat is the decay of the radioisotopes that are distributed throughout the earth’s interior. Until recently, scientists only had indirect tools to measure the quantity and distribution of these radioisotopes. Recently, a neutrino detector located in Japan has detected the signature antineutrinos that are produced when some radioactive particles decay. When coupled with models of the earth’s interior, the quantity of antineutrinos confirms that radioactive decay is responsible for the bulk of heat that drives plate tectonics. Further, the research provides a mechanism to produce a three-dimensional map of the radioisotope abundance in the earth’s interior. This discovery provides evidence for the design of Earth’s interior to support advanced life.
- T. Araki et al., “Experimental Investigation of Geologically Produced Antineutrinos with KamLAND,” Nature 436 (2005): 499-503.
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