Earth’s core cooling faster than expected – study — Analysis
It is possible that a critical tectonic event between core and surface layers could be stopped earlier than expected
The Earth’s molten interior is cooling faster than expected, which could turn the planet into a cold, inactive world similar to neighboring Mercury and Mars sooner than previously thought, researchers have warned.
The study, published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal, examined how well bridgmanite – the primary mineral found at the boundary between the planet’s core and mantle layers – conducts heat from the hot, molten core to the surface.
In order to mimic the intense heat and pressure that would occur at the boundary of bridgmanite, researchers used pulsed Lasers to lighten a crystal made from bridgmanite. The rate that the mineral was conducting heat was measured by the researchers. “about 1.5 times higher than assumed.”
The findings mean that the cooling of the Earth’s core is speeding up, and it is “becoming inactive much faster than expected.”
Rapid cooling may lead to a slower slowing down of processes such as plate tectonics. These are due to movements of large underground slabs made of crust and outer mantle layers and volcanic activity.
This heat exchange from the planet’s core helps generate the Earth’s magnetic field, which is understood to be protecting the planet’s atmosphere from solar radiation and allowing life to thrive.
Rapid cooling could accelerate further in the future as cooled Bridgmanite becomes a mineral called post-perovskite which conducts heat faster.
“Our results could give us a new perspective on the evolution of the Earth’s dynamics. They suggest that Earth, like the other rocky planets Mercury and Mars, is cooling and becoming inactive much faster than expected,”Motohiko Murakami (ETH Zurich Earth scientist), who conducted the study, said:
But it is still not known how long it may take for the thermal convection curents to cease completely in the mantle. Murakami indicated that little is known about the causes of such events. “pin down their timing.”
This will allow you to have a deeper understanding of how mantle convection works. “spatial and temporal terms,” Murakami noted that any predictive timeline would also need to account for how mantle dynamics are affected by the decay of radioactive elements in the core, which is a key source of the Earth’s internal heat.
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