A recent study reveals that an unknown tectonic plate swallowed up by the Earth has just been uncovered in the Philippine Sea. The hidden sea probably has existed 52 million years ago, after dinosaurs went extinct.
A seafloor was formed by the tectonic plate underneath the Philippine Sea. Geoscientists used images from earthquake data and from there, developed new ways to reconstruct the tectonic plate’s history and resurrect the “slab graveyard” of tectonic plate segments
which was buried deep underneath the earth. This then led the scientists to classify the former unknown East Asian Sea Plate where the dinosaur-era sea once existed.
The Philippine Sea is found at the juncture of several tectonic plates. As stated in Eartharchives
, “The Pacific, Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates frame several smaller plates, including the Philippine Sea Plate, which researchers say has been migrating northwest since its formation roughly 55 million years ago.”
The Philippine Sea Plate then collided with East Asian Sea Plate’s northern edge which was then driven into the earth’s mantle
. The researchers added that due to that, the East Asian Sea Plate’s southern area was eventually forced beneath its neighboring plates.
Johnny Wu, University of Houston geologist and the lead author of the study said in a statement
, “East Asia has been a place where plates have been coming together, converging and disappearing from the Earth's surface in a process called subduction. Because the information you're looking for to piece together the history of the area is actually disappearing from the Earth's surface, it's made it very difficult.”
These findings would provide researchers with a clearer view of the Philippine Sea history and its surrounding areas.
Sabin Zahirovic, a geologist at the University of Sydney told Live Science
, “The work [is] a groundbreaking advance in our understanding of the deep Earth structure in the most complex parts of the Eastern Hemisphere.”
Wu and his fellow researchers then added that they will be using the new method for future studies, “As we keep working in other areas with a lot of unknowns - for example, South America or the Himalayas - we'll continue to test these methods and refine them, and hopefully contribute new ideas to Earth science.”