The Outer Core – Earth’s Fascinating Layers, Part 3

If you missed Part 1 of our Earth’s Fascinating Layers series, The Crust, click here.

If you missed Part 2 of our Earth’s Fascinating Layers series, The Mantle, click here.

Are you tired yet? You have been digging for a long time. Now that you have passed through the mantle, you are at the edge of the outer core.

The Earth’s Liquid Layer

Can you swim? I hope so because this 1,380-mile-thick Outer Core layer is liquid! That is right; the core is so hot that the outer layer is molten. The liquid outer core is made of iron and nickel and scientists believe that electric currents within this layer control the Earth’s magnetic field.

The Gutenberg Discontinuity

Another seismic change occurs at the boundary between the mantle and the core. This transition zone is called the core-mantle boundary, or the Gutenberg Discontinuity. Some seismic waves disappear at this boundary, which indicates that the outer core is liquid.

The temperature of the outer core material is approximately 4,400°C and increases as it reaches the inner core to nearly 6,100°C.

Whew! Now that’s HOT!!

Up next: Part 3 of our Earth’s Layers series – The Inner Core

Images Courtesy NASA / USGS
Sources:
Crystal at the Center of the Earth; Ronald Cohen and Lars Stixrude; Carnegie Institute of Washington
Earth’s Interior; J. Louie; University of Nevada Reno; 1996
Structure of the Interior of the Earth; Lisa Gardiner; National Earth Science Teacher Association; 2010
The Interior of the Earth; Eugene C. Robertson; USGS

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