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THE EARTH’S CORE 1

The Earth’s Core

Blanco, Louis Andre


Galicia, Rick Anthony
Paquita, Aaroon Paul

Vasquez, Cedric

Las Pinas East National High School


Introduction of the Earth’s Core

Figure 1
The Core

The Earth's Core is one of the layers of the Earth. It is found underneath the Mantle. The Core
is a very hot surface and the most dense in the center of our planet. In the Earth's history, the
Earth is formed about 4.6 billion ago and it was uniformed by a hot rock. The Earth is
morphed from a messy ball. Based on the journal of Nature Geoscience, the reason why the
Earth's Core is composed of iron is because of the drib and drab of the iron in the lower part of
the mantle. As it said earlier, the Earth's Core is found under the mantle. The iron blobs at the
lower mantle will connect and will form a channel and will tunnel into the core.

It is said that the Earth is magnetic because of the gigantic ball of solid iron in the core. During
the Iron Catastrophe, the core was formed. It is said that, it is a pivotal moment in the Earth's
history when the planet heated past at the melting point of the iron. There was also a droplets of
heavy metals toward the center of the churning sphere. The heavy metals are gravitated at the
center or the Earth. This process is known to be called as Planetary Differentiation. The
silicates was mostly emerged at the early mantle and crust.

2
Composition of the Core

Figure 2

The Earth's core is composed with its inner and outer core. The outer core is the liquid part of the
core and the inner core is the solid part of the core. These two are composed of iron and nickel. The
heat of the core is unaccessible, but there is a theoretical study to the core's composition and
temperature. The inner core spins with the outer core. It creates a dynamo effect because the two
core layer are composed of iron, nickel, and cobalt. This dynamo effect generates a magnetic field
that helps the Earth to be protected from the charged particles and solar winds. By the study of Inge
Lehmann, a seismologists,

She discovered a solid inner core and a molten outer core. The seismic waves helps her to identify
the boundary of the core. The thickness of the outer core is 2,900 kilometers. Then the thickness of
the inner core is 1,278 kilometers.

3
Evidence that the Earth has a Core

If the Scientists found out that there is a crust and mantle, of course there is also some evidence
that there is a core in the Earth's interior. We all know that the core is composed of iron and
nickel.

So if they found out that there is an iron and nickel in the interior of the Earth, it means that they
also know that there is a core underneath the mantle. We know that we can't dig deeply until it
gets to the core. Based on the world record, the most deepest penetration in the Earth's surface is
just in 12 kilometers (7.67 miles). It is done by the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia.

Because no one can see nor touch the core, Scientists gets an idea about its composition, density,
and phases. One of the evidence of the Scientists is the sound waves vibration produced by the
strong earthquake. By measuring the speed and refraction of the waves, it gives us some
information about the density, measurement, and materials that the core have. Many earthquakes
and measurements from different locations helps the Scientists to have a clear picture of the size
of the core.

In 1906, Richard Dixon Oldham (1858-1936) established the importance of seismic data to the
existence of the Earth's core. Different boundary layers were identified by observing the reflected
and refracted of the seismic waves. There is a theory way back 4.6 billion years ago when the
Earth is formed, the iron worked its way down to the core and this is the one evidence that the
core is maid of iron.

4
The Outer Core

Figure 3

Outer Core

The 3rd layer of the earth is outer core. It is a fluid layer about 2,400 km thick and composed of
mostly iron and nickel. It Is the only liquid layer and this is why shear waves can't travel. Outer
core is mostly made up of iron and nickel that creates Earth’s magnetic field. In the outer core
oxygen and sulfur could be present. The Earth's outer core is molten/liquid because aside from
seismic data analysis, the Earth's magnetic field strengthens that idea. Magnetic field creates a
protective bubble around the earth that deflects the Sun's solar wind. It extends outward from the
Earth for several thousand kilometers. If our earth that has not magnetic field, it would be lifeless
like Mars.

There are some clues that the outer core is made up of iron include the following:Iron and nickel
is both dense and magnetic;The overall density of the earth is much higher than the density of the
rocks in the crust; The whole earth and meteorite roughly have the same density;the Earth's
mantle rock and a meteorite minus its iron, have the same density. The outer core temperature
ranges from 4400 °C (7952 °F) in the outer regions to 6100 °C (11012 °F)near the inner core.
Life on Earth would be very different without the outer core. In outer core the liquid material has
very low viscosity, meaning it easily deformed and malleable. It's the site of violent convection.
Many scientists believed that the convection of liquid metals in the outer core creates the Earth's
magnetic field. Bullen's discontinuity is the hottest part of the core, where temperatures reach
6,000° Celsius (10,800° Fahrenheit)—as hot as the surface of the
sun. As far as the Earth's magnetic field is concerned, the Earth has a magnetic field that reaches
above our atmosphere.Either a permanent magnet must be inside the Earth for a magnetic field to
occur, or ionized molecules move in a liquid environment inside the Earth

5
Evidence of Outer core

Geologists thought that the outer core is liquid iron, so,


they hypothesize that the Earth's center is composed of
predominantly iron. The hypothesis was based on two
important observation. First, shear waves do not travel
through the outer core. Second, our Earth has a magnetic
field. Geologist uses seismograph to measure shear waves
caused by the earthquakes. Once shear waves hit the outer
core it disappears and when it hits the inner core it
reappears. Geologists thought that the outer core is liquid
iron, so, they hypothesize that the Earth's center is
Figure 4 composed of predominantly iron. The hypothesis was
based on two important observation. First, shear waves do not travel through the outer core.
Second, our Earth has a magnetic field. Geologist uses seismograph to measure shear waves
caused by the earthquakes. Once shear waves hit the outer core it disappears and when it hits the
inner core it reappears. Shear wave can only travel through solid. One reason that can also tell
that the outer core is liquid is because of its temperature. The iron and nickel melts because of its
temperature. Also, the evidence for the structure of the Earth comes from studying waves
generated during an earthquake. If we use seismograph on the surface of the Earth, these waves
can be measured. That means we can have a graph that shows the density of rock as a function of
depth. If we already know the density we can estimate what the actual materials are. Therefore,
we can conclude that outer is liquid.

Geologist has come up with igneous ways to study layers. For


example, geologist has used seismic waves to learn what lies below
Earth's surface. Using seismograph they can know which seismic
waves can travel through various layers. They know there is an outer
core because of the seismic waves and magnetic field.
Figure 5

How do they know the thickness and heat produced by the outer core?
They use x-rays to determine the temperature in the outer core.

6
Earth’s Magnetic Field

The earth's magnetic field is an field that protects us to the


solar wind. And because of the liquid or fluid outer core the
magnetic field forms. The magnitude of the earth's magnetic
field is ranges from 25 to 65 microtestal. The magnetic field is
generated by electric currents due to the motion of convection
current of the molten iron in outer core. Convection current is
the current in mantle on which the heat that comes from the
outer core and is the force that drives the plates to move
around. The earth's magnetic field serves to deflect the solar
winds .And one stripping mechanism is for gas to be caught in
bubbles of magnetic field which are ripped off by solar winds.
Calculations of the loss of carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere of Mars, resulting from scavenging of ions by the
solar wind, indicate that the dissipation of the magnetic field
of Mars caused a near total loss of its atmosphere. The study
of past magnetic field of the earth is known as
paleomagnetism. The study of past magnetic field of the Earth
is known as paleomagnetism. The polarity of the Earth's
Figure 6
magnetic field is recorded in igneous rocks, and reversals of
the field.And the stability of the geomagnetic poles between
reversals has allowed paleomagnetists to track the past motion
of continents.

The earth's magnetic field is our protector because the harmful particles that comes from the sun is
absorb by this field and that field is created by a molten or melted metal that could be found on our
earth's outer core. The center of our earth is the core that has two types which is the outer and inner
core. The outer core is the third layer of the earth and it is liquid because the scientist notice that S-
wave cannot travel to outer core that is why the outer core is liquid or fluid layer. Our outer core is
made up of mostly metal iron and nickel. And it is responsible on our earth's magnetic field. It is the
only liquid layer. The metal iron that is in the outer core is became a liquid iron when the earth's
spin the particles move around that is capable to create an electrical current that current is will be
more powerful and it will be an invisible force that will stretch around our earth and a thousand
miles of that powerful current creates the magnetic field that protects us on harmful particles of the
sun.

7
Inner Core

The inner core is the center of the Earth. It is found 6200 kilometers deep and is 1220 kilometers
thick. It is entirely made out of iron-nickel alloy. It only takes up to 1.7% of the Earth’s mass and
0.7% of the Earths total volume. The inner core is 5100 °C to 5400°C hot. It is also 0.5 billion
years to 2 billion years old.

Discovery of the Earth’s Inner Core

The Earth’s core was discovered in 1906 by a


British geologist named Richard Oldham, and
the solid inner core was discovered in 1936 by a
Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann (Figure 1).
She induced it’s presence by studying
seismograms from earthquakes in New Zealand.
She observed that the seismic waves reflects off
the boundary of the inner core and can be
detected by sensitive seismographs on the
Earth's surface. She said that the inner core has
a radius of 1400 km, not far from the currently
accepted value of 1221 km. In 1938, Beno
Gutenberg and Charles Francis Richter analyzed
the core much more and estimated the thickness
of the outer core to be 1950 km with continuous
300 km thick transition to the inner core; this
means that there is a radius between 1230 and
1530 km for the inner core.
Figure 7. Inge Lehmann, the female seismologist

A few years later, in 1940, it was hypothesized that the inner core was made of solid iron. In
1952, Francis Birch showed an analysis of the data and concluded that the inner core might
probably be crystalline iron/crystalized iron.
The boundary between the inner and outer cores is sometimes called the "Lehmann
discontinuity", named after Inge Lehmann. The rigidity of the inner core was confirmed in
1971.

8
Evidence that the Inner Core Exists

The Inner Core was found due to the measurements of the


seismic wave that travels through the interior of the Earth
that are received by the seismic stations all around it. As
the waves travel through the interior such as the P (primary
or pressure) waves, compressional waves that can travel
through solid and liquid, and S (secondary or shear) waves,
that can only travel through solids, as they pass through the
layers, their velocities changes due to the difference of
densities in each layer. The velocity of S-waves in the core
varies from 3.7 km/s at the center to 3.5 km/s at the
surface. That is considerably less than the velocity of S-
waves in the lower crust (about 4.5 km/s) and less than half
Figure 8.
the velocity in the deep mantle, just above the outer core
(about 7.3 km/s).The velocity of the P-waves in the core also through the inner core, from about
11.4 km/s at the center to about 11.1 km/s at the surface. Then the speed goes down at the
boundary to 10.4 km/s. Since the P waves can travel through solid and liquid, the scientist
concluded that the outer core is liquid because the S waves can’t travel through and the refracted
P waves can pass through the inner core, this means that the inner core is solid and is the densest
because of the refraction of the P waves.

Size and Shape of the Inner Core


Based on the seismological data, the inner core is estimated to be about 1221 km in
radius (2442 km in diameter); which is about 19% of the radius of the Earth and 70% of the
radius of the Moon. Its volume is about 7.6 billion cubic km (7.6 × 1018 m3), which is about
1
⁄140 (0.7%) of the volume of the whole Earth.

Its shape is believed to be very close to an oblate ellipsoid (figure 9), due
to the rotation of the core and gravity applied, like the surface of the
earth, only that more spherical: The f (flattening) is estimated to be
between 1⁄400 and 1⁄416; meaning that the radius along the Earth's axis is
estimated to be about 3 km shorter than the radius at the equator. In
comparison, the flattening of the earth as a whole is very close to 1⁄300,
and the polar radius is 21 km shorter than the equatorial one.

Figure 9. An Oblate Ellipsoid

9
Composition of the Inner Core

There is still no evidence about the composition of the inner core. However, based on the
prevalence of the chemical elements in the Solar System, the theory of planetary formation, the
inner core is believed to consist primarily of an iron-nickel alloy. A mixture of iron and nickel.
Iron is also denser and heavier than the other element which means that iron sinks below to the
center of the Earth.
At the known pressures and estimated temperatures of the core, it is predicted that pure
iron could be solid, but its density would go higher than the current known density of the core by
approximately 3%. That result implies the presence of lighter elements in the core, such as
silicon, oxygen, or sulfur, in addition to the probable presence of nickel. Estimate suggests that
there might be up to 10% nickel and 2–3% of unidentified lighter elements. The Inner core also
contains cobalt, gold, and platinum which are also called “siderophiles”.

Pressure and Gravity of the Inner Core

The pressure in the Earth's inner core is slightly higher than it is at the boundary between
the outer and inner cores: it ranges from about 330 to 360 gigapascals (3,300,000 to
3,600,000 atm). Because of the mass of the Earth the pressure of it keeps the inner core solid
which is also called “pressure freezing”. Due to the immense amount of pressure, the melting
point of the iron-nickel alloy in the core increases as the pressure also goes high, letting the metal
exceed its melting point without melting.
The acceleration of gravity at the surface of the inner core can be computed to be
4.3 m/s ; which is less than half the value at the surface of the Earth (about 10 m/s2). Why? It’s
2

because as you descend towards the middle of the Earth, the pressure increases and the mass will
pull you up instead. But in the very center of the earth the gravity becomes absolute zero hence
cancelling gravity out.

Density and Mass of the Inner Core

The density of the inner core is believed to range from 13.0 kg/L at the center to about
12.8 kg/L at the surface. As the materials property differs, the density drops suddenly at that
surface: the liquid just above the inner core is believed to be significantly less dense, at about
12.1 kg/L. For comparison, the average density in the upper 100 km of the Earth is about
3.4 kg/L. Due to the iron-nickel composition of the inner core, the mass is compacted and heavy.
The mass of the inner core is about 1023 kg for the inner core, which is 1/60 (1.7%) of the
mass of the whole Earth. Even though the inner core has higher density and is solid, the outer
core takes up to 30% of the mass because the outer core takes up much more space and radius
compared to the inner core.

10
Temperature of the Inner Core

The temperature of the inner core can be estimated from the melting temperature of
impure iron at the pressure which iron is under at the boundary of the inner core .In 2002, They
estimated its temperature to be between 5,400 K (5,100 °C; 9,300 °F) and 5,700 K (5,400 °C;
9,800 °F), However, in 2013 S. They obtained experimentally a substantially higher temperature
for the melting point of iron, 6230 ± 500 K. This is due to the properties of Iron, as the pressure
rises, the melting point of iron also raise which keeps it in its solid property keeping it from not
melting. It is also called “pressure freezing”.

The Magnetic Field in the Core

As the Core of the Earth spins, it produces electric currents.


As the outer core spins, the electrical currents create the
magnetic field. The magnetic field is extremely important to
sustain the life on Earth. Without it, we would be exposed to
high amounts of radiation from the solar flares the Sun creates
and our atmosphere would be free to leak into empty space.
The inner core doesn’t produce the magnetic field, instead the
outer core as it flows a top of the inner core

Viscosity of the Inner Core

Although the seismic waves can travel inside through the inner core. It is still unclear whether
the inner core is completely solid or absolutely viscous. So the scientists still consider that there
might be a slow convection inside the inner cores same as the mantle. They estimated the
viscosity of the inner core at 1018 Pa which is a sextillion times the viscosity of water.

Age of the Inner Core

The age of the inner core is still under discussion at this present time. It is believed that
the inner core actually came from the outer core then just cooled off. However there is still no
concrete evidence on when this process took place. The approximate estimate ranges from 0.5
billion years to 2 billion years.

11
Facts About the Inner Core

-The heat in the inner core is about 5400 Celcius. This heat is caused by three elements:
the residual heat from the Earth’s formation, the gravitational forces of the moon and the sun and
the decay of the radioactive elements inside the inner core itself.

-The iron-nickel alloy in the inner core is also referred as NiFe. Ni for nickel and Fe for
iron.

-The scientist believes that the inner core is growing because of the radioactive properties
of it decaying, letting it grow its volume.

-They believe that the inner cores age is around 0.5 and 2 billion years. The theory also
states that the core was molten and that the inner core is just cooled off.

-The inner core is solid even when it exceeds its melting point due to the immense
pressure applied by the Earth’s mass.

-Some scientist that an inner-inner core exist inside it. They believed it formed 500
million years ago due to a geological change.

-Addition to seismic activity, scientist also used other methods such as meteor analysis,
lab experiments, computer modeling, and reading of data.

-The inner core takes up to 1.7% of the Earth’s total mass while the outer core takes up to
30% of the Earth’s total mass.

-The Earth's magnetic field is not created by its solid iron-nickel inner core. Instead it is
created by the earth's outer core, made of molten iron and nickel. The magnetic field is created
when the outer core flows around the inner core.

12
QUIZ
Direction: Encircle the correct answer.

1. What Catastrophe does the core formed?

a. Oxygen catastrophe c. Silicate catastrophe

b. Iron catastrophe d. Nickel catastrophe

2. The Core is a _________ surface and the most dense.

a. Most coldest c. Most hotter


b. Most coolest d. Most Poisonous

3. There are two types of core. The _____ and ______.

a. In Core and On Core c. Lower Core and Upper Core

b. Interior Core and Exterior Core d. inner Core and Outer Core

4. The ________ is solid.


a. Outer Core c. Inner Core
b. Oceanic Crust d. None

5. What makes up the Inner Core solid?


a. Pressure cooker c. Ice berg

b. Boiling d. Pressure freezing


6. The Inner Core was found due to the measurements of the ________.
a. Seismic Waves c. Drilling examples

b. Seismic Graph d. Ocean waves

7. Outer core is mostly made up of_____ and _____.

a. iron and nickel c. iron and sulfur

b. oxygen and nickel d. magnesium and iron

8. Which is true ?

a. Outer core and inner core are liquid. C. Outer core is solid and inner
core is liquid.

b. Outer core is liquid and inner core is solid. d. Outer core and inner are solid.

9. How does magnetic field generated?

a.)due to the current in the current core.

b.)by the electric current due to the motion in the current core.

c.) by electric currents due to the motion of convection current of the molten iron in outer core.

d.) by the molten material that is generated in the outer core

10. Why is the outer core responsible for our magnetic field?

a) because it is the only liquid layer of the earth that is capable to create our magnetic field.

b) because it protects us on solar wind

c) because it is liquid

d) because it is the layer that product power current


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The Core Within Earth's Inner Core

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Basic Geology/Outer Core - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

The outer core of the Earth is a liquid layer about 2,260 km thick composed of iron and nickel
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