Can the interior of a state stretch? Yes, says new study

You know how you stretch when getting out of bed in the morning? Well, it turns out that the state of New Mexico knows exactly how you feel.

Now if your main hobby is watching grass grow, this fact might just be the making of your new extreme sport, because New Mexico is stretching very, very slowly.

In fact, it takes the state about 40 years to stretch an inch.

The scientist who knows all this is University of Colorado geophysicist Henry Berglund

By placing 25 very-to-the-power-of-a-lot precise GPS receivers across New Mexico and Colorado, Berglund and his colleagues were able to determine that the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe are moving further and away from each other. Now it’s not like they’re sprinting. The speed is about 1.2 socalled nanostrains per year.

It is, however, very interesting for the scientists.

The reason is that the stretching is happening in the interior of the US. Stretching and breaking of continental plates is well documented, but until now the documenting has been carried out along the edges of the continental plates.

The new results from the interior of a continental plate raises (sorry) a range (sorry again) of new questions, primarily about what is happening below ground level that causes the measured effect. Is it an upwelling in the gooey mantle that lies beneath the crust or a sag in the plates themselves? So far it remains a mystery.


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