Phys.org reports: There have been many estimates for when the earth’s inner core was formed, but scientists from the University of Liverpool have used new data which indicates that the Earth’s inner core was formed 1 – 1.5 billion years ago as it “froze” from the surrounding molten iron outer core.
The inner core is Earth’s deepest layer. It is a ball of solid iron just larger than Pluto which is surrounded by a liquid outer core. The inner core is a relatively recent addition to our planet and establishing when it was formed is a topic of vigorous scientific debate with estimates ranging from 0.5 billion to 2 billion years ago.
In a new study published in Nature, researchers from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences analysed magnetic records from ancient igneous rocks and found that there was a sharp increase in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field between 1 and 1.5 billion years ago.
This increased magnetic field is a likely indication of the first occurrence of solid iron at Earth’s centre and the point in Earth’s history at which the solid inner core first started to “freeze” out from the cooling molten outer core.
Liverpool palaeomagnetism expert and the study’s lead author, Dr Andy Biggin, said: “This finding could change our understanding of the Earth’s interior and its history.” [Continue reading…]