Plate Tectonics, Planetary Magnetism and Life

  • David S. Stevenson
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


Of the terrestrial planets in our solar system, the Earth is a unique object in more than a few ways. The core generates a strong, persistent magnetic field that diverts most of the solar wind. While the magnetic field does not guarantee protection from the ravages of the Sun, it does divert the wind’s erosive flow from the outskirts of our atmosphere. In this chapter, we examine how such a field comes about; whether the Earth has always had it; and whether a planet can still be habitable without one.


Core-Mantle and Heat Flow

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  3. Geoneutrinos and the energy budget of the Earth. (2012) Jean-Claude Mareschal, Claude Jaupart, Catherine Phaneuf and Claire Perry; Journal of Geodynamics 54 (2012) 43–54, doi:
  4. Tidal tomography constrains Earth’s deep-mantle buoyancy. (2017) Harriet C. P. Lau, Jerry X. Mitrovica, James L. Davis, Jeroen Tromp, Hsin-Ying Yang and David Al-Attar, Nature, 551, 321–326, doi:
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The Terrestrial and Lunar Dynamos

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  5. Zonal flow formation in the Earth’s core. (2010) Takehiro Miyagoshi, Akira Kageyama & Tetsuya Sato, Nature, 463,793–796; doi:
  6. Palaeomagnetic field intensity variations suggest Mesoproterozoic inner-core nucleation. (2015) A. J. Biggin, E. J. Piispa, L. J. Pesonen, R. Holme, G. A. Paterson, T. Veikkolainen & L. Tauxe; Nature, 526, 245–248, doi:
  7. Bottom-up control of geomagnetic secular variation by the Earth’s inner core. (2013) Julien Aubert, Christopher C. Finlay & Alexandre Fournier Nature, 502, 219–222; doi:

Plate Tectonics and the Terrestrial Dynamo

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  3. The divergent fates of primitive hydrospheric water on Earth and Mars. (2017) Jon Wade, Brendan Dyck, Richard M. Palin, James D. P. Moore and Andrew J. Smye, Nature 552, 391–394; doi:
  4. Thermal evolution with a hydrating mantle and the initiation of plate tectonics in the early Earth. (2014) J. Korenaga, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, B12403, doi:, 201. Available at:
  5. Earth's air pressure 2.7 billion years ago constrained to less than half of modern levels. (2016) Sanjoy M. Som, Roger Buick, James W. Hagadorn, Tim S. Blake, John M. Perreault, Jelte P. Harnmeijer and David C. Catling, Nature Geoscience 9, 448–451; doi:
  6. The fate of water within Earth and super-Earths and implications for plate tectonics. (2017) Sonia M. Tikoo and Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci., 375, 2094; doi: Available at:
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Extrasolar Worlds

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  2. A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri. (2016) Guillem Anglada-Escude, Pedro J. Amado, John Barnes, Zaira M. Berdinas, R. Paul Butler, Gavin A. L. Coleman, Ignacio de la Cueva, Stefan Dreizler, Michael Endl, Benjamin Giesers, Sandra V. Jeffers, James S. Jenkins, Hugh R. A. Jones, Marcin Kiraga, Martin Kurster, Marίa J. Lopez-Gonzalez, Christopher J. Marvin, Nicolas Morales, Julien Morin, Richard P. Nelson, Jose L. Ortiz, Aviv Ofir, Sijme-Jan Paardekooper, Ansgar Reiners, Eloy Rodriguez, Cristina Rodrίguez-Lopez, Luis F. Sarmiento, John P. Strachan, Yiannis Tsapras, Mikko Tuomi & Mathias Zechmeister, Nature 536, 437–440, doi:
  3. Strong XUV irradiation of the Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting the ultracool dwarf TRAPPIST-1. (2016) Peter J. Wheatley, Tom Louden, Vincent Bourrier, David Ehrenreich and Michaël Gillon, MNRAS 000, 1–5 (2016)Google Scholar
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  5. The role of rotation on the evolution of dynamo generated magnetic fields in Super Earths. (2011) Jorge I. Zuluaga, Pablo A. Cuartas. Preprint available at: arXiv:

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Stevenson
    • 1
  1. 1.NottinghamshireUK

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