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Surface water “invades” the outer layer of the planet’s core

Surface water “invades” the outer layer of the planet’s core

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It is no secret that the Earth’s core is still not well understood by science. Before the liquid part, known as the outer core, seismologists identified, a few decades ago, a thin layer of previously unknown origin. Now, they suggest that this film, which resembles a plastic film when compared to other layers, is formed by chemical reactions resulting from contact with water coming from the surface.

Otherwise, it is as if water is seeping through and penetrating the outer layer of the planet’s core, as researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) in the United States of America, and Yonsei University in South Korea, explained in a study published in the journal. Natural Earth Sciences.

Water invades the heart

This layer, nicknamed Prime E, formed over billions of years and is actually only new to our science. The hypothesis is that water from the surface is transported deep into the Earth by the movement of subducting tectonic plates, which have “slipped” into the mantle.

Water seeps into the Earth’s core, reacts chemically under high pressure and generates silica crystals (Photo: Dan Shim/ASU)

In high-pressure experiments, scientists discovered what happens when water reacts chemically with basic materials. In this case, a hydrogen-rich but silicon-poor layer is formed, exactly the same as what is observed in this thin layer between the mantle and the outer core. As part of the reaction, silica crystals are generated that rise and fuse in the mantle.

For researchers, this discovery advances understanding of Earth’s internal processes, and also indicates that the water cycle is more extensive than previously recognized. After all, it was never thought that water could seep into the core of the planet. However, recently, Canadian researchers also raised the hypothesis that the core was leaking, something else that would have been unthinkable until recently.

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source: Natural Earth Sciences that it Arizona State University

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