Recent research has peeled back another layer of Earth’s mysteries, revealing an ancient ocean floor structure that might envelop our planet’s core. Astonishingly, parts of this structure could surpass even the towering height of Mount Everest.
April saw the release of a study presenting a detailed and high-resolution mapping of Earth’s core, offering fresh insights previously unknown to scientists. The revelations point to a thin, yet dense layer located around 2,900 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, right at the juncture of the Core Mantle Boundary. This is where solid rocks meet the molten concoction forming the outer core.
Samantha Hansen, a geologist from the University of Alabama, remarked on the findings, “Seismic investigations like ours are peeling back the layers of the Earth, showing us a structural complexity we hadn’t anticipated.” Hansen continued, expressing the significance of the research, “These discoveries are reshaping our understanding of the deep Earth and the forces that shape our planet on the surface.”
To obtain a clearer picture of Earth’s insides, Hansen’s team relied on data from 15 different stations located in the icy wilderness of Antarctica. They employed seismic waves, birthed from Earth’s natural quakes, as a sophisticated tool to sketch an internal map of the planet.
An unexpected surge of energy was identified within moments of the wave reflecting off the boundary in the seismic data. This phenomenon led the researchers to the discovery of the ultra-low velocity zone (ULVZs), a vast expanse named for its distinctive slow wave speeds. Although this layer is svelte in thickness, it extends over an impressive stretch of kilometers.
The unique attributes of the ULVZs suggest varying heights across this layer. Edward Garnero, a geophysicist from Arizona State University, provided some perspective, saying, “We’re likely observing mountains at the core, some of which could be grander in scale than Mount Everest by up to five times.”
These subterranean peaks could be pivotal in dictating the release of heat from the core, influencing not only the Earth’s magnetic fields but also volcanic activities.
While current research hints at the layer potentially enveloping the entire core, further exploration is needed to solidify this theory. The journey to uncover Earth’s deepest secrets continues, and this discovery is a significant leap in that voyage.