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Earth's Sold Inner Core - Spins

Earth's Sold Inner Core - Spins  Visual Arts Geography STEM

No one has ever seen the inner core of the Earth, but scientists have some theories about it.  One of those theories is that the inner core spins, thereby providing our planet with an electromagnetic field.

The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) tells us more about this important theory:

... the earth's core really does spin. If you cut the earth in half, it would look like a hard-boiled egg with a very large yolk. The shell represents the earth's 35-km (22 mile)- thick (or less) crust on which we walk and live. The egg white represents the 2,850-km (1770 mile)- thick mantle, the source of heat for Hawaiian and other hot spot volcanoes, and the yolk represents the 3,500-km (2172 mile)- thick core.

The core is made of two sections - a liquid outer core and a solid inner core. Both sections are made predominantly of iron and nickel. The inner core is under such great pressure that it cannot melt, even though temperatures are estimated at 3,700-6,000?C (6,700-10,800?F). This is about the temperature of the surface of the sun, while a sizzling molten lava flow from Kilauea is a cool 1,100?C (2,000?F).

In the late 1990s, enterprising scientists discovered that the solid inner core is spinning independently of the rest of the Earth. So, while the earth spins on its axis one complete revolution each day, the inner core spins in the same direction but slightly farther. Some scientists believe that over the past century, the extra speed has gained the core a quarter-turn on the planet as a whole, while others think that it would take more than 1,000 years for the inner core to completely "lap" the planet.

Click on the image for a better view.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy USGS.

PD

 

 

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