Without Earthquakes, Earth Would Be Uninhabitable

Earth gets heat from the sun, but also from its hot, molten core. The heat underneath keeps our surface active, with masses of land and sea moving against each other and reshuffling, a process called plate tectonic. The plates of land that move about on the planet's surface shift over time, giving us mountains, oceans, volcanoes, and earthquakes with their gradual but sometimes violent movement. This system as a whole creates living ecosystems and keeps certain gasses and minerals moving up and down through the atmosphere, surface, water, and deep underground. The effect as a whole is that of a thermostat, in a delicate balance that keeps the surface temperature in a range that supports all life.

But what if our world were static, with no plate tectonics? Then it would be more like Venus. A theory about that planet says that perpetual volcanic activity threw so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the higher temperatures caused the oceans to boil away, leaving the planet too hot and dry to sustain any kind of life. Once a planet's water is gone, there's no getting it back. But earth is a geologically active planet, otherwise we couldn't live here. Read up on how that works at Atlas Obscura. 

(Image credit: USGS)


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