Did Theia Leave a Trace Deep Within Earth?

The Moon, a souvenir left from the impact of Theia, a Mars-sized body, with our planet during the early formation of our Solar System, is located approximately 384,400 km away from us. (Aisy Maffaz, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Jim Brace-Thompson

Per one theory, Earth gained its companion Moon thanks to a violent collision with a Mars-sized “proto-planet” dubbed Theia some 4.5 billion years ago. This was when our nascent Solar System was gelling and was still highly chaotic. Per the theory, Theia smashed into a super-hot molten Earth with a mighty splash.

The result? Theia ripped our planet into two different bodies; namely, Earth and its orbiting Moon. Also, just possibly, pieces of Theia remain deep down below.

Arizona State University Ph.D. candidate Qian Yuan believes he has found rocks at the base of our Earth’s mantle that may be pieces of ancient Theia. And not just pieces but what have been described recently in the journal Science as “two continent-size layers of rock” beneath West Africa and the Pacific Ocean. Analysis of seismic waves from earthquakes suggest that these buried rocks are far denser and different from other mantle rocks.

Indeed, Yuan suggests they are none other pieces of Theia. “A crazy idea,” he admits, “but at least possible.”

Author: Jim Brace-Thompson

JimBraceThompson Jim began and oversees the AFMS Badge Program for kids and has been inducted into the National Rockhound & Lapidary Hall of Fame within their Education Category.
Contact him at jbraceth@roadrunner.com.


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