Earth’s inner core is softer: How is the planet formed?

Contrary to the fact the Earth’s inner core is solid, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have found that it is comparatively softer.

Facts about the inner core of the Earth:

  • Radius: 1,220 kilometers (760 miles) i.e. 70 percent of the Moon’s radius.
  • Composed of: Nickel-iron alloy.
  • Temperature: 5,700 K (5,430 °C) or 9806 °F, which is almost the temperature of the Sun.
  • The inner core is made up of two layers outer and inner.
  • Outer core is 1,355 miles (2,180 km) thick.
  • There is no estimated radius of the inner core; however, it plays a distinct role in making Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The inner core is measured by shear waves, a seismology term, which so tiny and feeble that it can’t be observed directly.
  • In fact, detecting them has been considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of global seismology since scientists first predicted the inner core was solid in the 1930s and 40s.

Purpose of the Earth’s inner core:

When charged particles from the solar wind collide with air molecules above Earth’s magnetic poles, it causes the air molecules to glow, causing the auroras – the northern and southern lights.

Researchers came up with a way to detect shear waves, or “J waves” in the inner core – a type of wave which can only travel through solid objects.

According to the research published by the university, the wavefield method looks at the similarities between the signals at two receivers after a major earthquake, rather than the direct wave arrivals. The study shows these results can then be used to demonstrate the existence of J waves and infer the shear wave speed in the inner core.

It has been found that the inner core shares some similar elastic properties with gold and platinum.

The understanding of the Earth’s inner core has direct consequences for the generation and maintenance of the geomagnetic field, and without that geomagnetic field, there would be no life on the Earth’s surface.

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