Scientist discover tunnel connecting Panama and Galapagos

Scientists have discovered a tunnel deep beneath Panama that may have allowed materials to travel from the Galápagos to Panama. It could also explain why Panama has few active volcanos, here’s why:

Live Science explains that the geological secret passage beneath Panama may explain why rocks from Earth’s mantle have been found more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) from where they originated. 

The opening under Panama’s tectonic plates located some 62 miles (100 km) below Earth’s surface, could be the explanation, not only for the flow of materials from beneath the Galápagos Islands to beneath Panama but also as to why Panama has few active volcanos. 

According to scientists, opening under Panama means there is a gap in the water-rich crust, which makes it’s harder for magma to flow, in some regions.

"On the west coast of Central America, the Cocos tectonic plate is diving down and pushes oceanic crust under the continental crust of the North American, Caribbean, and Panama tectonic plates, a process called subduction. This subduction zone creates a line of volcanoes called the Central American Volcanic Arc where lava pushes through the boundaries. But the volcanism stops in western Panama, which sits on the Panama plate, said David Bekaert, a postdoctoral scholar in marine chemistry and geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts."

For decades scientists have been studying volcanic rocks and hot springs in Panama uncovering interesting findings.

"We found that in particular places of Central America, namely western Panama and behind the volcanic arc in Costa Rica, we have some exotic signatures [of geochemistry] that really resemble what you have in the Galápagos Islands," Bekaert said. 

The findings turned researchers into seismic imaging, which uses earthquake waves to map what’s beneath the surface, to gain a better understanding. 

They found that deep beneath Panama, a hole where wind or materials could pass from one side of the tectonic plates to the other, in a manner, researchers relate to breeze passing through an open window. 

The mantle flow Bekaert explains has not been studied much, but there are unexplained anomalies in the chemistry of the mantle all over the world.

Source: Live Science