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Glimpse deep into Earth's crust finds heat source that may stabilize continents

Rocks from the Rio Grande continental rift have provided a rare snapshot of active geology deep inside Earth’s crust, revealing new evidence for how continents remain stable over billions of years, according to a team of scientists.

“We tend to study rocks that are millions to billions of years old, but in this case we can show what’s happening in the deep crust, nearly 19 miles below the surface of the Earth, in what geologically speaking is the modern day,” said Jacob Cipar, a graduate student in geosciences at Penn State. “And we have linked what’s preserved in these rocks with tectonic processes happening today that may represent an important step in the development of stable continents.”

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Kilbourne Hole