Scientists find iron ‘snow’ in Earth’s core


Zenia Khan and Muznah Aquil

The earth’s inner core is very hot, and new research has found that it contains iron “snow.” The research was led by Youjun Zhang, and it helped scientists have a better understanding of the forces that influence the earth. In order to study the core, scientists obtained signals from seismic waves that go through the planet, which actually move at a much slower pace than was expected at the outer core, and faster than expected at the eastern hemisphere in the top inner core.

That brought several questions in comparison to the expectations.This study found that crystallization could be possible and 15% of the lower outer core may have iron crystals that descend through the liquid outer core onto the solid inner core. This happens over hundreds of kilometers, as stated by Nick Dygert, an assistant professor. 

The scientists also came to the conclusion that the iron snow was a result of seismic peculiarities. The different thicknesses of the snow determine the changes in speed. The iron particle snowing was compared with the procedure in magma chambers. In the earth, the compacted iron plays a role in the inner core growing and the outer core shrinking. In magma chambers, compacted minerals are referred to as a cumulate rock. 

This understanding of composition and behavior can help scientists understand larger processes regarding the earth’s core.