Wax models to predict plate movements on the ocean floor

Physicists have developed a way to use wax to help predict tectonic microplate movements on the ocean floor.


“Physicists in the US have proven that wax is an excellent model of the ocean floors. Using a tub of wax, geophysicists at Cornell and Columbia have produced a predictive model of tectonic microplates – one of the most important and poorly understood features of plate tectonics – for the first time. This research is reported today in the New Journal of Physics (www.njp.org) published jointly by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society (Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft).

This breakthrough gives scientists a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of plate tectonics: how the landmasses of the Earth shift and change over time, how earthquakes are generated, volcanoes erupt, and precious metals are concentrated in rich seams. Tectonic microplates could also help identify whether this process, which many scientists argue was a key factor in triggering the evolution of life on Earth, occurs on other bodies in the Solar System.”

See some footage of the models here.