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Is Earth's Mantle 100 Degrees Hotter Than Previously Thought? Researchers Dig Deeper to Find Out

Mar 07, 2017 11:59 AM EST
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There may be a need to study the center of the Earth to settle once and for all if the Earth's core is 100 degrees hotter than previously thought. A recent study suggests that the mantle is indeed hotter and it may greatly affect Earth sciences.

The Earth's mantle believed to be composed of solids and rocks that are part of the planet's hot core and the crystal layer that covers it could be hotter that previous records. If this is indeed true, it may affect how scientists decipher scientific facts since the temperature of the planet's core influences many different aspects on the planet, including the ocean, tectonic plates, and even the planet's formation.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) conducted the study that says the Earth's core could be hotter. The study suggested the Earth's mantle is 2,570 degrees Fahrenheit (1,410 degrees Celsius), according to a report.

"At mid-ocean ridges, the tectonic plates that form the seafloor gradually spread apart," study's lead author Emily Sarafian, a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program said in a press release. "Rock from the upper mantle slowly rises to fill the void between the plates, melting as the pressure decreases, then cooling and re-solidifying to form a new crust along the ocean bottom. We wanted to be able to model this process, so we needed to know the temperature at which rising mantle rock starts to melt."

But proving their finding that the Earth's mantle is hotter that previous belief is a challenge to the researchers. The fact that it cannot be manually measured made it more difficult.

For example, to calculate the temperature, the researchers observe the water content in a rock. The changes in water content help geologist measure the temperature of peridotite rocks that compose the upper mantle of the core.

However, geochemist Glenn Gaetani also expressed that there's still a lot of "uncertainty" about the findings since they still cannot tell how the addition of water can change the melting point, according to a report.

As researchers move to fully understand and to correctly measure the temperature of the Earth's mantle, scientists warn that it may change how they interpret other sciences that are influenced by the core's temperature.

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