It was recorded as a result of seismic waves passing through the earth’s core. By monitoring the subterranean tremors generated by telluric movements, scientists detected a natural phenomenon that had never been observed before: the center of our planet is getting colder, with no explanation.
A cooling magma core
Despite being on magma for billions of years, the earth’s core is losing heat with no apparent explanation.
The earth’s core, also known as the endosphere, consists almost entirely of ignited rocky material. The elements of which it is composed include iron, nickel, sulfur and oxygen, which ensure that the center of our planet remains in activity like a ball of fire. This behavior could change without apparent explanation.
A recent study found that the Earth’s core is losing heat much faster beneath Indonesia than Brazil. In general, waves travel faster between the north and south poles than they do across the equator. This discrepancy is referred to as seismic anisotropy.
According to a paper published in Nature Geoscience, these movements may be affecting the temperature of the Earth’s core. The issue is that it’s doing it in a “unbalanced pattern,” which has perplexed the scientists who are tracking these changes. The key could be in the formation of iron crystals, which form more rapidly from year to year.
An unstable geological history
For billions of years, our planet’s geological history has been unstable. The record of these new iron crystals, which are generally in a liquid state within the Earth’s core, could be another of these cosmic changes corresponding to their own nature:
According to the study’s lead author, Daniel Frost, a seismologist at the University of California at Berkeley, these new crystal formations could drain energy from the ignited magma core:
“The movement of the liquid iron in the outer core moves the heat away from the inner core, causing it to freeze,” the expert explains. “This means that the outer core received more heat from the east [lower Indonesia] than from the west [lower Brazil].”
According to Frost, this unbalanced cooling cannot be understood without considering the other layers of our planet. Each of them affects what happens under the other. If the other mantle layers are cooling, of course the core will too. But the question that has been troubling the scientists who worked on the study is why one space is colder than the other, rather than following a more uniform pattern.
Frost believes that tectonic plates are partly responsible for this unusual occurrence. Another possible explanation is related to the Earth’s magnetic field. Although this could be one of the possible explanations, it’s not yet clear what effect this cooling might have on the core and, more importantly, on life on our planet.