So BUZZ Fam, guess what? Our oceans are getting bigger, and the cause, according to scientists is a “mysterious phenomenon”.
Scientists estimate that the Atlantic Ocean is actually growing wider by several centimetres every year. At the same time, the Pacific is shrinking. This caused by the ongoing movement of Earth’s tectonic plates, as the plates underneath the Americas pull apart from those underneath Europe and Africa.
The findings were unearthed by a team of scientists led by seismologist Matthew Agius from the University of Southampton in the UK.
“The observations imply material transfer from the lower to the upper mantle – either continuous or punctuated – that is linked to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,” the researchers explain.
“Given the length and longevity of the mid-ocean ridge system, this implies that whole-mantle convection may be more prevalent than previously thought.”
And according to Mike Kendall, a senior researcher and geophysicist from the University of Oxford “[The work] refutes long held assumptions that mid-ocean ridges might play a passive role in plate tectonics.”
“It suggests that in places such as the Mid-Atlantic, forces at the ridge play an important role in driving newly-formed plates apart.”
The findings are reported in Nature.