On land, plate tectonics are a significant a part of Earth’s evolution.
The crust and higher mantle type the lithosphere: fragmented right into a sequence of plates.
These plates collide, unfold, uplift and subduct, creating completely different floor options.
From the formation of mountains to volcanic island chains to the spreading of oceans, plate tectonics impacts the Earth globally.
Continental drift creates and breaks up supercontinents many occasions all through historical past.
However is Earth distinctive? No different identified planet has tectonic plates.
Mars is a single plate planet, permitting Olympus Mons to type.
With a stationary monoplate and a hotspot beneath it, Olympus Mons is the biggest planetary volcano.
Mercury misplaced most of its mantle early on because it cooled to type a strong single-plate planet.
However Venus, almost the dimensions and mass of Earth with comparable inner warmth, additionally has just one plate.
Though nonetheless volcanically lively, the floor of Venus deforms, however doesn’t circulation.
Earth owes its tectonic uniqueness to massive floor oceans, with hints discovered elsewhere.
Europa, the ice-covered moon of Jupiter, exhibits proof of ice sheet tectonics.
Subsurface fluid subsidence and upwelling happen there, with related exercise potential on Pluto.
Liquid water stands out as the key.
The interior warmth and lubricating results of water, mixed, doubtless allow the Earth’s flowing, sliding plates.
For probably the most half, Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in photos, footage and not more than 200 phrases. Speak much less? Smile extra.