(RepublicanInformer.com)- While it was once thought the Earth’s inner core consisted mostly of iron which gives the Earth its magnetic field that shields the planet from solar radiation, some scientists now believe the inner core consists of superheated elements that are simultaneously liquid and solid.
According to a research study published in the journal Nature, scientists from the Institute of Geochemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, various “lighter” elements are likely present at the inner core within superheated solid and liquid states known as “superionic.”
Using the study of earthquake data known as seismology, these researchers concluded that materials in the inner core behave this way due to extreme conditions. The temperature at the Earth’s center is believed to be as hot as the surface of the sun — over 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using quantum mechanics theory, the scientists created simulations mimicking the intense pressures and temperatures at the inner core. These simulations showed how some alloys transform into a superionic state under similar conditions.
In a statement on the findings, scientist He Yu said their research could have implications for understanding the processes related to the Earth’s core, including volcanism, earthquakes, and the magnetic field.
He said their results show that the light elements in the inner core, like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, “behave like liquids and diffuse freely in the lattice of solid iron,” suggesting that the inner core isn’t a “normal but a composition of solid iron sublattice and liquid-like light elements.”
The researchers found that strong convection currents, giving buoyancy for lighter elements create the superheated solids that occur in the inner core. These superheated solids float around, producing the convection currents of the outer core. Convection currents set liquid metal in motion and combine with the inner core, giving the Earth its magnetic field.
The findings, He Yu said, would explain why scientists have found changes in both the inner core structure and geomagnetic field at the Earth’s core in recent decades.