Scientists examining the effects of the Earth’s core have concluded that it is melting, but not to worry as the core may have been doing this for some time. And while this diverges from the standard understanding of the Earth’s core as a cold and gradually expanding mass approximately the size of the moon, the melting core may not actually be as catastrophic as it might sound. And yet it may go some way toward also explaining more catastrophic events such as Earthquakes.
The Earth as many know is comprised of three different layers. The crust, on which we all live has a thickness of approximately 15.5 to 43.5 miles while the oceanic crust, which is far thinner has a thickness between five and six miles. The crust is what makes up all the land surrounding the far thicker and by far largest portion of the Earth – the mantle. The Earth’s Mantle is estimated to be approximately 1800 miles. Still deeper is the liquid core and the inner core, which together illustrate a process that has been ongoing for several million years – a process scientists feel they have finally decoded.
Scientists are speculating that the Earth’s Core may in fact have been melting for quite some time – even suggesting it may be to blame for geological incidents on the surface such as the Earthquakes near Japan earlier this year. And if they understand how it works, they may be able to understand the process better and eventually be able to make better predictions about when and where future Earthquakes may strike with the same precision that allow weathermen predict the weather. Of course everyone knows even these predictions are often wrong or notoriously unreliable.
The discovery, which was published by scientists from the University of Leeds, the Indian Institute of Technology, and UC San Diego was published in a recent edition of Nature calling the Earth’s core a “geodynamo.” The dynamo spins and gives off extremely strong magnetic waves – given the size of the whole planet. In reality when you divide up the effects they are still fairly small on a small scale, but the size of the area affected shows a clear strong field. The paper was co-authored by several scientists, but included such esteemed names in the field as Dr. Sebastian Rost of Leeds University.
So if the Earth’s core is melting, is this something we should be worried about? No, say scientists – it is also freezing in other areas. As the inner core spins, the possibility of the Earth’s core actually melting for good is fairly low as it is replenished fairly quickly. But since there could be irregularities with this process and some areas of the core will be more solid than others as the process goes on, there could be unforeseen problems ahead – but no evidence has come forward to suggest anything out of the ordinary. As we increase our understanding of any major phenomenon, however, we run the risk of making drastic changes based on temporary and natural fluctuations that we are in the midst of. And that could spell trouble even if the cause itself was completely normal.