The last few decades have witnessed extraordinary progress on Earth's deep interior, particularly for Earth's core. Notable examples include seismic detection of fine structure and heterogeneity from the CMB to the depths of the inner core; improved constraints on the thermal regime and critical physical properties; direct experimental access to core pressures and temperatures; partial resolution of geomagnetic history into the deep past, new cosmochemical constraints on core formation, plus a first-order solution of the dynamo problem. Nevertheless, many fundamental questions about Earth's core remain unanswered, representing significant impediments to further understanding, not just of the Earth system, but also the interiors of other planets. A partial list of unsolved problems includes the composition of the core especially its light element inventory, the nature of heterogeneity in the core and its dynamical significance, quantifying heat and mass exchanges between core and mantle, the record of core evolution exemplified by inner core nucleation and the magnetic superchron cycle, and the role of core formation in governing Earth history. A more concerted and better-focused interdisciplinary effort is needed to resolve these long-standing problems, one that is comparable in its scale and structure to a planetary exploration mission. Such a Mission to Earth's Center would foster technological developments aimed specifically at these questions, such as seismic arrays designed for imaging the core, experimental capability for determining the phase diagram of the core, resolution of geomagnetic history into the deep past, plus next-generation dynamical models for the mantle, the core, and their interaction.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2016
- 1038 Mantle processes;
- GEOCHEMISTRYDE: 7215 Earthquake source observations;
- SEISMOLOGYDE: 7294 Seismic instruments and networks;
- SEISMOLOGYDE: 8124 Earth's interior: composition and state;