Inevitability of Plate Tectonics on Super-Earths

  title={Inevitability of Plate Tectonics on Super-Earths},
  author={Diana Valencia and Richard J. O’Connell and Dimitar D. Sasselov},
  journal={The Astrophysical Journal Letters},
  pages={L45 - L48}
The recent discovery of super-Earths (masses ≤10 M⊕) has initiated a discussion about conditions for habitable worlds. Among these is the mode of convection, which influences a planet's thermal evolution and surface conditions. On Earth, plate tectonics has been proposed as a necessary condition for life. Here we show that super-Earths will also have plate tectonics. We demonstrate that as planetary mass increases, the shear stress available to overcome resistance to plate motion increases… 


The operation of plate tectonics on Earth is essential to modulate its atmospheric composition over geological time and is thus commonly believed to be vital for planetary habitability at large. It

Plate tectonics on super-Earths: Equally or more likely than on Earth

The dependence of planetary tectonics on mantle thermal state: applications to early Earth evolution

  • B. Foley
  • Geology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
  • 2018
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