Core Formation in the Lab
Sensitivity of a Coupled Earth System Model to Isopycnal Stirring
Climate interactions forced by continent assembly and breakup
The Young Inner Core
F-layer formation at the inner core boundary
How increasing mixing warms the polar regions
Modeling the Geodynamo
Global Paleobathymetry and Ocean Sediment Reconstruction
Magnetic Reversals and the Earth's Core
Geomagnetic Superchron Cycles Driven by Mantle Convection
Mantle convection, plates, and the Earth system
Geodynamic Carbon Cycling

Core Formation in the Lab

Planet Earth was built in a very tough neighborhood: a world of violent impacts, swirling clouds of debris, and heaving oceans of silicate magma and molten iron. OES postdoc Maylis Landeau is investigating these events in a novel way — with fluid dynamics experiments in the lab. Working with Hopkins graduate Ben Hirsh, former OES postdoc Renaud Deguen, and OES PI Peter Olson, and using ordinary liquids — silicone oils for magma and saline solutions for molten iron — Landeau has simulated the environment in which Earth’s central core formed, but on a vastly reduced scale. To simulate a giant impact, the team drops liquid projectiles into a two-layer liquid representing the mantle and core of the accreting Earth. The accompanying figure shows the turbulent state of an impacting core as it penetrates Earth’s core-mantle boundary in the experiment. In an article in Nature Geoscience Landeau and the team propose that seismically-imaged heterogeneity below the core-mantle boundary is a vestige left over from the giant impact that formed the Moon some four and one half billion years ago.

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