US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Clumps of hot, dense material that curl around the Earth’s core are much more common than previous studies have suggested.
The new method of analyzing earthquake data has revealed even more anomalous zones the size of a continent at the boundary between the planet’s core and mantle.
We still don’t know what kind of substance it is – it can be magma, molten iron flowing out of the nucleus, or something else – but with a more complete, detailed map of their location, we can better understand the geological processes taking place deep inside the Earth .
The core boundary lies about 2,900 kilometers below the surface of the earth. It is unattainable, therefore, if we want to find out what conditions are there, we must be creative. Fortunately, Earth comes with a built-in tool to explore its interior: earthquakes.
The way earthquakes and tremors spread across different types of material inside the planet has allowed seismologists to reconstruct and map the composition of the interior of the earth.
This is how dozens of years ago, huge clumps of super-hot material were discovered at the core-mantle boundary.
Researchers have studied data for 30 years – about 7,000 seismograms of one particular type of seismic wave – in search of an echo signal pointing to a zone of super-hot material.
“By looking at thousands of echoes at the boundary of the core and mantle at the same time, instead of focusing on a few at a time, as is usually done, we got a whole new perspective,” said geologist Doen Kim of the University of Maryland.
“We saw that the core-mantle border region has many structures that can produce echoes.”
The results revealed insignificant changes in seismic waves from earthquakes in Asia and Oceania, which indicates a previously undetected zone of super-hot material below the Marquesas in the South Pacific.
In turn, physical properties can help geologists derive the chemical composition and temperature of structures, which will bring us closer to unraveling the mysteries of what causes these strange, dense zones surrounding the heart of the Earth.
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