Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers confirm discovery of Earth's inner, innermost core

12.03.2008
Geologists at the University of Illinois have confirmed the discovery of Earth’s inner, innermost core, and have created a three-dimensional model that describes the seismic anisotropy and texturing of iron crystals within the inner core.

“For many years, we have been like blind men touching different parts of an elephant,” said U. of I. geologist Xiaodong Song. “Now, for the fist time, we have a sense of the entire elephant, and see what the inner core of Earth really looks like.”

Using both newly acquired data and legacy data collected around the world, Song and postdoctoral research associate Xinlei Sun painstakingly probed the shape of Earth’s core. The researchers report their findings in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and posted on its Web site.

Composed mainly of iron, Earth’s core consists of a solid inner core about 2,400 kilometers in diameter and a fluid outer core about 7,000 kilometers in diameter. The inner core plays an important role in the geodynamo that generates Earth’s magnetic field.

The solid inner core is elastically anisotropic; that is, seismic waves have different speeds along different directions. The anisotropy has been found to change with hemisphere and with radius. In the latest work, Sun and Song describe another anomaly – a global structure – found within the inner core.

“To constrain the shape of the inner core anisotropy, we needed a uniform distribution of seismic waves traveling in all directions through the core,” Sun said. “Since the seismic waves we studied were generated by earthquakes, one challenge was acquiring enough seismic waves recorded at enough stations.”

In their analysis, Sun and Song used a three-dimensional tomography technique to invert the anisotropy of the inner core. They parameterized the anisotropy of the inner core in both radial and longitudinal directions. The researchers then used a three-dimensional ray tracing method to trace and retrace the seismic waves through the inner core iteratively.

What they found was a distinct change in the inner core anisotropy, clearly marking the presence of an inner inner core with a diameter of about 1,180 kilometers, slightly less than half the diameter of the inner core.

The layering of the core is interpreted as different texturing, or crystalline phase, of iron in the inner core, the researchers say.

“Our results suggest the outer inner core is composed of iron crystals of a single phase with different degrees of preferred alignment along Earth’s spin axis,” Sun said. “The inner inner core may be composed of a different phase of crystalline iron or have a different pattern of alignment.”

Although the anisotropy of the inner core was proposed 20 years ago, “this is the first time we have been able to piece everything together to create a three-dimensional view,” Song said. “This view should help us better understand the character, mineral properties and evolution of Earth’s inner core.”

James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Cause for variability in Arctic sea ice clarified
14.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

nachricht Arctic rivers provide fingerprint of carbon release from thawing permafrost
08.05.2019 | Stockholm University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

Im Focus: A step towards probabilistic computing

Working group led by physicist Professor Ulrich Nowak at the University of Konstanz, in collaboration with a team of physicists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, demonstrates how skyrmions can be used for the computer concepts of the future

When it comes to performing a calculation destined to arrive at an exact result, humans are hopelessly inferior to the computer. In other areas, humans are...

Im Focus: Recording embryonic development

Scientists develop a molecular recording tool that enables in vivo lineage tracing of embryonic cells

The beginning of new life starts with a fascinating process: A single cell gives rise to progenitor cells that eventually differentiate into the three germ...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cement as a climate killer: Using industrial residues to produce carbon neutral alternatives

20.05.2019 | Materials Sciences

When bees are freezing

20.05.2019 | Life Sciences

Machine learning speeds modeling of experiments aimed at capturing fusion energy on Earth

20.05.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>