The plate tectonics revolution has changed our outlook on the physical history of the solid Earth more than anything else since the debates of Adam Gottlob Werner and James Hutton, but it has now arrived at a state of consolidation where patiently and inconspicuously (unless you are an insider) the foundations are being laid for a, perhaps large, leap forward at some point in the future. In the meantime another revolution, slower, less audible and therefore less noticed, has been addressing equally grand but quite different aspects of the Earth. Born in the seventies of the last century, it tried...

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