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Why are the Alps growing 1mm+ a year?

So you may have heard that the Alps are growing? You may not have heard that the African tectonic plate is no longer subducting under the Eurasian plate, but still the European Alps (created by the collision of those plates) are growing by about over 1cm per year. How can this be? It’s all about erosion. As the mountains are weathered away, the mass they displace below the Earth’s crust decreases, and they rise like a melting iceberg (more accurate models of their erosion have confirmed this) – (from the Knight Science Journalism Tracker via Boingboing.)

The Alps grow because they swim in the Earths mantle. Mountains like the Matterhorn or the Zugspitze lose one meter of stone every 1000-2000 years, Sauer reports. Like a melting iceberg slowly rises out of the water to adjust to the loss of weight, the alps rise according to their weight loss due to erosion. Sauer explains, that this was a hypothesis for years, but that it is proven now, because German scientists from the Research Center for Geoscience in Potsdam developed a new method to measure the erosion. Sauer doesn’t forget to mention in the end, that there is still some uncertainty and that the slight rising of the Alps might be due to the “recent” (in geological terms) melting of the ice of the last ice age, which plunged the Alps into the earths mantle.

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