When Gaia Met Theia: The Blobs Remember

Garnero speculates, the dense, distinct piles might even be fragments of Theia itself, forever interred in the deep Earth. __ Quanta

Roughly 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth and the solar system were very young, a giant Mars-sized planet is said to have collided with Gaia in a fiery conflagration. The result of that collision was a much hotter Earth, and a lot of space debris which eventually coalesced to form our moon, Luna. But deep within our home planet reside two dense, hot, massive blobs of matter. These blobs are a reminder to us of what was, and what may be.

… although these blobs usually stay beneath the surface, if one were to poke up above the crust, it would result in huge eruptions that would last millions of years, according to Garnero. __ Professor Edward Garnero

“We literally don’t know what they are, where they came from, how long they’ve been around, or what they do.” __ Eos

Long detected by seismologists, ancient as time, somehow linked to vulcanism and seismic activity — and perhaps the future triggers to a series of super-volcanic eruptions such as the Earth has never seen.

These blobs are more dense than the surrounding mantle, but not so dense as the Earth’s core. They sit back-to-back with the core sandwiched between. And they move.

“They’re among the largest things inside the Earth,” University of Maryland geologist Ved Lekic told Eos reporter Jenessa Duncombe, “and yet we literally don’t know what they are, where they came from, how long they’ve been around, or what they do.”

… Both are massive, stabbing up about halfway through the mantle and measuring as long as continents. According to Duncombe, each blob stretches about 100 times higher than Mount Everest; ___ Nobody Understands Them

the blobs have to be made out of “ancient materials,” said Roberta Rudnick, a geochemist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s pretty exciting times.”

As plumes and eddies swirl around the blobs, the currents may sometimes capture little clumps of the blob material itself, explaining the strangeness of hot spot lavas far above. But bigger pieces might also occasionally break off, and this may be connected to yet another suspicious pattern.

According to studies led by Trond Torsvik at the University of Oslo, the blobs also seem be linked to about two dozen surface regions called large igneous provinces — places where, at multiple times in Earth’s past, millions of cubic kilometers of lava oozed onto the surface as if through open wounds. Many of these events are themselves linked to mass extinctions like the Great Dying, the largest life-snuffing episode of the last half-billion years. __ Quanta

Why does the blob material seem so alien? The blobs certainly look like “foreign bodies” perhaps injected by an object such as Theia. Alternatively, the appearance of the giant blobs in the seismic imagery above may resemble the aftermath of a “bullet wound” to the Earth’s core (small black hole). Or perhaps it is more like the coup, contrecoup injury of a blunt impact to the head.

What does it all mean? It means that science is never settled. From the miniscule to the gargantuan, mysteries abound. When humans finally grow into wisdom and brilliance, they will learn to focus on the mysteries — and to stop inventing false phantoms of dread for childish purposes of power and control.

More: neutron star collisions

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