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Atlas Mountains are floating on a layer of hot molten rock, study finds

January 05, 2014

Atlas Mountains are floating on a layer of hot molten rock, study finds

The mountains only descend beneath the surface to a depth of 35 kilometers.

The standard model for mountains is that high mountains must have deep roots for support. The Atlas Mountains in Morocco, however, do not have deep roots, a press release obtained by EurekAlert reveals. Instead of being rooted to the ground, the Atlas Mountains are floating on a layer of molten rock. Scientists believe that this molten rock could perhaps originate as far away as the Canary Islands.

The hot magma flows beneath the region’s lithosphere, the outermost layer of the Earth. This is significantly different from typical mountain ranges, where the higher the mountain, the deeper its roots must be beneath the surface in order to support its weight.

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