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Sleeping Subduction Zone

23 March 2024
Geology, Plate Tectonics

At https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/rivers-oceans/sleeping-subduction-zone-could-awaken-and-form-a-new-ring-of-fire-that-swallows-the-atlantic-ocean … note the use of the word, ‘could‘ – and why not. It is a model. We begin with a sleeping subduction zone below the Gibraltar Strait which they reckon is still active. Is it a subduction zone or a tectonic fault line? If it is active it is not exactly sleeping – although slumbering with one eye open might be a better description. Perhaps. In 20 million years time it could give birth to an Atlantic ‘ring of fire’. On the other hand, it probably won’t – but not to spoil the story. This subduction zone, we are told, is creeping westwards and could one day reach the open Atlantic. This might cause the Atlantic Ocean to  close  up – or swallowed as in the title. Regurgitated in the Mantle. The subduction zone has been slumbering for 5 million years – but once existed along the northern coast of what is now the Mediterranean. It is thought.

The Atlantic has another subduction zone, it would seem, in the Caribbean – and may have formed the Lesser Antilles arc of islands. Another one may exist near Antarctica. As one might expect, another modelling exercise.

At https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/volcanos/iceland-volcano-most-powerful-eruption-yet-narrowly-misses-grindavik-but-could-still-trigger-life-threatening-toxicgas-plume … the Iceland volcano has just erupted again – the most powerful so far, this year. It could trigger a toxic gas plume. Some nice pictures.

Then, a day or so later, we have https://www.livescience.com/planet-earth/volcanos/iceland-volcano-gigantic-plume-of-toxic-gas-from-latest-eruption-is-moving-across-europe-satellite-data-shows … which tells us there was a gigantic plume of toxic gas – and it is moving across, and above, Europe. A map of its progress – over the UK and Scandinavia, finally to be extinguished over Russia. The gas is sulfur dioxide and the plume is a 3 miles tall column – yet it passed over the UK without anyone noticing it.

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