How do Scientists Measure the Temperature of the Earth’s Core?

The earth’s crust is divided into different layers, and the innermost portion is called the boiling core. The heat stems from three principal sources. The first source of heat is the remnant energy left after the formation and accretion of the planet. The second is heat from friction, which stems from the core material of greater density sinking to the central part of the planet, while the third source of heat is the decay of radioactive nature elements.

From the explanation, it can be deduced quickly that heat seeping from the core of the earth will be a lengthy process. Heat escapes from the inner layers of the earth via what is known as convection. This is precisely why so much heat has remained stored in the planet’s core even after billions of years following its creation.

The heat being discussed here is of truly gigantic proportions. The quantity of heat from the accretion of small bodies that formed the planet’s initial body was around 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists are interested in the fraction of that energy that was retained in the planet’s body and the portion that was lost to space.

In addition to all these, the presence of very dense iron-based material in the core of the earth added another layer of heat energy in the range of about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists have not fully understood the magnitude of the heat generated from radioactive elements like thorium and uranium. So the point that is being made here is that there are steady sources of heat, and the earth is not even able to cool off swiftly, so much of the heat remains trapped in its interior.

How Do Scientists Measure the Temperature of the Earth’s Core?

Scientists have been able to estimate the temperature of the planet’s bowels by employing several techniques. These include studying how iron melts when subjected to extremely high pressures. They have deduced that the deepest layers of the planet from around 2,900 kilometers to the center are mainly iron.

By calculating the speed of sound across the core based on the velocity with which seismic waves like the ones produced during earthquakes or tsunamis travel through the medium, the precise figures can be derived.

Iron is unique in that it is the only element that blends well with the seismic characteristics present in the earth’s core. It is also available in the right amounts that make up a remarkable mass of our world.

By recreating these conditions in the laboratory using elemental iron, scientists have been able to do a correct calculation and measurement of the core’s temperature. By observing and taking the iron readings when it melts under conditions of ultra high pressure, a reasonable extrapolation can be made, which is precisely what the scientists did.

These are extreme conditions, but scientists have been able to devise a way to go around it. These experiments were conducted in specialized labs for mineral physics equipped with diamond anvil cells (for generating super high levels of pressure) and lasers so the extreme temperatures can be recreated right on the surface of the planet. The experiments themselves are not to conduct, but they have opened a proper perspective that allows us to have a very comprehensive understanding of what goes inside the fiery chambers of the planet we call home. These experiments have provided reliable temperature estimates for the different layers of earth.

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