March 4, 2021

The inner core of the Earth, younger than thought

The inner core of the Earth, younger than thought


The inner core of the Earth, which is a solid iron ball somewhat larger than Pluto, could be younger than previously thought, according to a study published now that suggests that 565 years ago it had not yet begun to solidify.

Since its existence was discovered in 1936, the age of that inner core of the Earth has been object of numerous speculations and studies among the scientific community.

The challenge is to be able to specify when solid iron first appeared in the inner core of the Earth, a process called "nucleation" on which the only consensus is that it occurred between 500 and 2,500 million years ago.

A new study, published this Monday in the specialized magazine «Nature Geoscience», contributes paleomagnetic evidence that the Earth's magnetic field was at its lowest intensity 565 million years ago, which suggests that the inner core had not begun to fully solidify at that moment.

This evidence was found by a team of researchers from the University of Rochester, in New York (USA), headed by Richard Bono and John Tarduno.

These experts measured the intensity and direction of the magnetic field recorded in crystals of plagioclase and clinopyroxene formed 565 million years ago in what is today eastern Quebec (Canada).

The low magnetic field strengths they found were unprecedented and were more than ten times smaller than their current strength.

In an article published with the study, Peter Driscoll, an expert at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington (USA), notes that "nucleation of the inner core could have happened just in time to recharge the geodynamic and save the shield Magnetic of the Earth ». EFE

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