Keyboard Access Tips

To play Discovery - Plate Tectonics and Life you need to enable JavaScript. How?

Discovery - Plate Tectonics and Life

Did early photosynthetic life on Earth lead to the evolution of plate tectonics, making our planet unique in the Solar System?

Earthquakes are feared for their destructive, deadly force. But they are part of a geological process - plate tectonics - that some scientists say is vital for the existence of life itself. Without the ever-changing land surfaces that plate tectonics produces, or the high continental masses raised above sea level by earthquake activity, planet Earth would atrophy into a lifeless mass, like our neighbour Mars. But why is Earth the only planet with plate tectonics? And, when did they start? The clues are so faint, the traces so ephemeral, that researchers are only now beginning to find tentative answers. Extraordinarily, some say that life itself has changed the forces in plate tectonics, and helped to shape the world.

  • Broadcast on BBC World Service, 12:32AM Mon, 22 Jul 2013
  • Available until 12:00AM Thu, 1 Jan 2099
  • First broadcast BBC World Service, 7:32PM Mon, 15 Jul 2013
  • Categories
  • Duration 29 minutes

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.