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The Earth’s core is cooling faster than expected, creating an uncertain future for the planet

An investigation has revealed secrets that were previously locked deep inside the Earth's interior and that could have profound consequences for the future of the planet we call home.

The research paper, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, shows that the Earth's core is cooling faster than scientists previously thought.

Scientists studied the conductivity of bridgmanite, formerly called the most widespread material on Earth, which is found in large quantities between the core and the mantle of the Earth's interior - a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)

By experimenting with bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at CMB, the researchers found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more heat conductive than previously thought.

As a result, the heat transfer from the high temperatures found in the center of the earth to its outer regions, such as the molten rock in the mantle and beyond, occurs faster than previously thought.

This has significant implications for our understanding of what goes on under our feet, in the middle of the Earth, and what it may mean for us who live on the surface in the future.

Professor Motohiko Murakami from the Swiss ETH Zurich University told Newsweek: "As we experience that the thermal conductivity of bridgmanit has become 1.5 times higher than previously assumed, the heat transfer from the core would go more efficiently than previously assumed, ultimately leading to cooling. of the core faster than expected. "

The heat transfer from the inner Earth to the surface takes place through the convection currents from the molten rock of the mantle, which also causes plate tectonics in the earth's crust - the movement of plates on top of the mantle that causes earthquakes and volcanic activity on the planet's surface.

Lava lake seen in Ethiopia
The living lava lake in the crater of the Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia. The study results suggest "more powerful" tectonic activity on the planet's surface. Eric Lafforgue / Art in All of Us / Contributor / Getty Images

The results of the paper suggest that "more powerful mantle convection" is also expected, meaning that tectonic activity may also change.

"Through mantle convection, the heat from the deeper part of the Earth can be transferred to the surface, which is the original source of energy for the tectonic activity," Murakami said. "Thus, if we assume more powerful mantle convection, one could imagine more active tectonics."

Among the implications of the paper were potential insights into what lies ahead - far ahead - for the future of geology on Earth.

Often compared to Earth in its long-term orbit and history, Murakami said his research showed that Mars could provide some insights.

The core of the Red Planet has long since become inactive, after the heat transfer ended, ending with key processes such as the activity of the magnetic field that once made Mars, like Earth, a much more dynamic place than the hostile desert desert we perceive today .

Does the scientist's findings suggest that the Earth's core could be about to cool off, as other planets like Mars' did faster than expected?

"Yes, I think so," Murakami said. "But the point is how long it will take, which is extremely difficult to predict exactly. How long the Earth would remain dynamically active would definitely be one of the biggest problems we have to tackle. The time scale that would fit this discussion should be millions or even billions of years. "

Fargradalsfjall volcano in Iceland
The volcano Fargradalsfjall spews molten lava on 19 August 2021 near Grindavik, Iceland. The results of the study had implications for the expected cessation of heat transfer from the Earth's core to its mantle and surface. Sean Gallup / Staff / Getty Images

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