Compositional Model for the Earth's Core

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495 Citations (Scopus)


The remote setting of the Earth’s core tests our ability to assess its physical and chemical characteristics. Extending out to half an Earth radii, the metallic core constitutes a sixth of the planet’s volume and a third of its mass (see Table 1 for physical properties of the Earth’s core). The boundary between the silicate mantle and the core (CMB) is remarkable in that it is a zone of greatest contrast in Earth properties. The density increase across this boundary represents a greater contrast than across the crust-ocean surface. The Earth’s gravitational acceleration reaches a maximum (10.7 m s22) at the CMB and this boundary is also the site of the greatest temperature gradient in the Earth. (The temperature at the base of the mantle (,2,900 8C) is not well established, and that at the top of the inner core is even less securely known (,3,500–4,500 8C).) The pressure range throughout the core (i.e., 136 GPa to .360 GPa) makes recreating environmental conditions in most experimental labs impossible, excepting a few diamond anvil facilities or those with high-powered, shock-melting guns (see Chapter 2.14). Thus, our understanding of the core is based on very few pieces of direct evidence and many fragments of indirect observations. Direct evidence comes from seismology, geodesy, geo- and paleomagnetism, and, relatively recently isotope geochemistry (see Section 2.15.6). Indirect evidence comes from geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and meteoritics; further constraints on the core system are gained from studies in experimental petrology, mineral physics, ab initio calculations, and evaluations....

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Mantle and Core
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780080548074
ISBN (Print)9780080437514
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Dec 4


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