Scientists have discovered that the center of the earth is different than previously believed

For more than half a century, scientists thought the Earth’s inner core was a solid iron ball (iStock).

For more than half a century, the scientific community thought that the Earth’s inner core was a solid ball of compressed iron surrounded by a liquid outer core. But the new research was published in the September 20 issue of the journal Physics of the Earth and planetary interiors, States that the strength of the planetary ball varies from hard metal to semi-soft liquid.

“The more we see it, the more we realize it’s not a drop of iron.” I said Jessica Irving, a seismologist at the University of Bristol in the UK, was not involved in the study. “We have discovered a whole new hidden world.”

In a sense, when Jules Verne published his magnificent “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 1864, the inner center of the earth remained a mystery. Although scientists have known since the 1950s that our planet is not empty, as Vern predicted, the interior of the planet has not yet been explored.; Excessive heat and pressure are too high to travel there for any man-made or man-made study. “Unless something terrible happens on our planet, the center of the earth cannot be observed directly.” Irving said.

In contrast, geophysicists rely on seismic waves generated by earthquakes. By measuring these massive vibrations, scientists can reconstruct the image of the planet’s internal functions. “Like a person’s CT scan”, Irving said. These waves come in two main types: straight-line compression waves and wavy shear waves. As each wave travels on the ground different media can accelerate, slow down or bounce.

Jules Verne imagined the center of the earth to be an empty space, with strange creatures inside.
Jules Verne imagined the center of the earth to be an empty space, with strange creatures inside.

For Red Butler, a geophysicist at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, the new study began as a matter of inconsistent numbers. Butler was observing how seismic waves generated by large earthquakes in five different places travel through the center of the earth to the opposite side of the globe. But something went wrong: The seismic waves, which were supposed to have passed through a solid metal ball, were instead deflected in some areas.

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This figure surprised Butler. He knew that the mathematics of seismic waves was correct, which meant only one thing: the scientists had the wrong structure.

“When you’re in this business, you have to match the data.” Said.

Therefore, Butler and his co-authors re-evaluated the basic assumption that the Earth’s inner core is entirely solid. They noticed that the observed waves were working, Instead of being a solid ball, the core contained pockets of liquid and “soft”, semi-solid iron near its surface.

According to Butler, the range of iron stability was particularly surprising. “We have seen evidence of inconsistencies everywhere; In some places it is very difficult “, Said. “It has hard surfaces against cast iron or mild iron so we see many details inside the center that we have not seen before.

Illustration of the center of the earth
Illustration of the center of the earth

This research could revolutionize our understanding of the Earth’s magnetic field. According to research published in 2019 in the journal Science Advances, the outer center of the rotating fluid drives our planet’s magnetic field, while the inner center helps to change the field.

According to NASA research, other planets such as Mars have a fluid center, but no inner center or magnetic field. So, Butler and Irving believe, the U.S.A deeper understanding of the inner core will help scientists understand the relationship between the interior of a planet and its magnetic field.

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Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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