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A new view of the mysterious E-prime layer outside the earth's core, water infiltration into the formation

2024-04-23 Update From: SLTechnology News&Howtos shulou NAV: SLTechnology News&Howtos > IT Information >

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CTOnews.com, November 28 (Xinhua)-- A series of new experiments show that the mysterious E-prime layer outside the earth's core is formed by water seepage in the earth's core.

In the 1990s, geologists discovered that there was a thin layer around the earth's outer core, a swirling ocean of liquid metal around the solid core, and called it the E-prime layer or E' layer.

The E-prime layer is more than 60 miles (100km) thick and lies about 1800 miles (2900 km) below the earth's surface, which is thinner than the rest of the earth's interior.

Geologists had speculated that the E-prime layer was left by ancient iron-bearing magma, but in a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience on November 13, the E-prime layer may have been caused by factors such as sinking tectonic plates that caused water to infiltrate and react with the metal surface of the outer core.

This process may have produced a large number of silicon crystals as by-products, which have been transported to the mantle, thus changing the chemical composition and physical properties of the mantle.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments to replicate how water reacts with the outer nucleus under intense pressure. They used a special device that can compress and heat hot water and metal samples at high temperatures and high pressures, and then use X-rays and sound waves to detect changes in the samples.

They found that the hydrogen in the water replaced the silicon in the liquid metal, which forced the silicon to be discharged from the metal in crystal form. The shape and size of these silicon crystals are consistent with the changes observed by seismic waves in the E-prime layer, which indicates that the E-prime layer may be an outer nuclear layer rich in hydrogen and poor in silicon, which is contrary to the previous assumption of its composition.

CTOnews.com attached the reference address of the paper: Kim, T.S., O'Rourke, J.G., Lee, J. et al. A hydrogen-enriched layer in the topmost outer core sourced from deeply subducted water. Nat. Geosci. (2023). Https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-023-01324-x

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