Low viscosity of the Earth’s inner core



Downloads per month over past year

Belonoshko, Anatoly B. and Fu, Jie and Bryk, Taras and Simak, Sergei I. and Mattesini, Maurizio (2019) Low viscosity of the Earth’s inner core. Nature communications, 10 . ISSN 2041-1723

[thumbnail of MattesiniM 04LIBRE+CC.pdf]
Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-10346-2


The Earth’s solid inner core is a highly attenuating medium. It consists mainly of iron. The high attenuation of sound wave propagation in the inner core is at odds with the widely accepted paradigm of hexagonal close-packed phase stability under inner core conditions, because sound waves propagate through the hexagonal iron without energy dissipation. Here we show by first-principles molecular dynamics that the body-centered cubic phase of iron, recently demonstrated to be thermodynamically stable under the inner core conditions, is considerably less elastic than the hexagonal phase. Being a crystalline phase, the bodycentered cubic phase of iron possesses the viscosity close to that of a liquid iron. The high attenuation of sound in the inner core is due to the unique diffusion characteristic of the body-centered cubic phase. The low viscosity of iron in the inner core enables the convection and resolves a number of controversies.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:

© The autors. Computations were performed using the facilities at the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) located at the National Supercomputing Center in Linköping. The authors also wish to thank the Swedish Research Council (VR) for financial support (Grants 2013-5767, 2014-4750, and 2017-03744) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 11804175). A.B.B. and T.B. acknowledge support from Olle Engkvist Byggmästare Foundation. S.I.S. acknowledges the support from the Swedish Government Strategic Research Area in Materials Science on Functional Materials at Linköping University (Faculty Grant SFO-MatLiU No. 2009 00971). M.M. acknowledges financial support by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CGL2013- 41860-P and CGL2017-86070-R).

Uncontrolled Keywords:Centered-cubic iron; Irreversible-processes; Melting curve; Attenuation; Anisotropy; Dynamics; Liquid; GPA
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Atmospheric physics
ID Code:57099
Deposited On:08 Oct 2019 08:48
Last Modified:08 Oct 2019 09:13

Origin of downloads

Repository Staff Only: item control page