MAY 27, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Puzzling features deep in Earth's interior illuminated

The Earth is a wonderful place full of both beauty and mystery. While it’s easy to both study and explore the Earth above ground, studying its interior is incredibly tricky, mainly since we literally can’t get there. Therefore, scientists must use seismic waves from earthquakes to study the Earth’s interior, which can bring about some promising results about how the inside of the very planet we live on works.

A recent study published in Nature Communications is the first to take a detailed image of an unusual pocket of rock at the boundary layer with Earth's core known as the core-mantle boundary, some 1864 mi (3000 km) beneath the surface. This study is significant because it is the first to reveal the complex internal variability of one of these pockets in detail, shedding light on the landscape of Earth's deep interior and the processes operating within it. The enigmatic area of rock, which is located almost directly beneath the Hawaiian Islands, is one of several ultra-low velocity zones -- so-called because earthquake waves slow to a crawl as they pass through them.

"Of all Earth's deep interior features, these are the most fascinating and complex. We've now got the first solid evidence to show their internal structure -- it's a real milestone in deep earth seismology," said lead author Zhi Li, PhD student at the University of Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences.

The structure of the Earth is divided into four major components: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. Each layer has a unique chemical composition, physical state, and can impact life on the Earth’s surface. The Earth’s interior processes are far more complex than surface processes, as it is an ongoing geologic system fueled by extreme pressure and heat that allows us to live comfortably on the surface. These internal processes fuel the volcanoes that help maintain our thick atmosphere and plate tectonics that recycle nutrients in our oceans so life can thrive there, as well.

Researchers now plan to apply their techniques to enhance the resolution of imaging of other pockets at the core-mantle boundary, as well as mapping new zones. Eventually they hope to map the geological landscape across the core-mantle boundary and understand its relationship with the dynamics and evolutionary history of our planet.

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: Nature Communications, National Geographic

MS in Geological Sciences
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
You May Also Like
MAY 05, 2022
Technology
Paper-thin loudspeaker FTW!
MAY 05, 2022
Paper-thin loudspeaker FTW!
Who doesn’t love a great loudspeaker? From time immemorial, loudspeakers are the ultimate way to blast your favori ...
MAY 11, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Experience a Total Lunar Eclipse Over the Evening of Sunday, May 15th
MAY 11, 2022
Experience a Total Lunar Eclipse Over the Evening of Sunday, May 15th
For the first time in almost a full year, residents of Earth will be able to observe a total lunar eclipse – a per ...
MAY 12, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Resources For Growing Your Own Cannabis
MAY 12, 2022
Resources For Growing Your Own Cannabis
Resources for growing your own cannabis at home, including the science behind getting the best grows possible.
MAY 26, 2022
Technology
New Technology for Electronics Improves Cooling and Reduces Bulkiness
MAY 26, 2022
New Technology for Electronics Improves Cooling and Reduces Bulkiness
One of the biggest issues with electronics is the heat generated by the underlying devices. These devices need to be coo ...
JUN 03, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Why are plate tectonics so awesome?
JUN 03, 2022
Why are plate tectonics so awesome?
We often affiliate plate tectonics with earthquakes, as we are all taught in school that the shifting of plates leads to ...
JUN 18, 2022
Technology
Time crystals 'impossible' but obey quantum physics
JUN 18, 2022
Time crystals 'impossible' but obey quantum physics
Let’s face it, bending the rules is fun, even as adults. But the great thing about being a scientist is that you l ...
Loading Comments...