Earth's Inner Core Has Started Spinning In The Opposite Direction? Check Details Here
According to research and studies on the Earth's solid, hot, iron ball-like core has stopped its rotation and has started to spin in the opposite direction recently and experts have some interesting takes on it.
Though it sounds like the plot of a scary apocalyptic disaster movie, let's not panic and find out the details on the matter and what the experts have to say.
Reports suggest that the earth's core, which is roughly 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) below the surface, is a "planet within the planet" and that it can spin independently as it floats in the liquid metal outer core.
There is only a little information on Exactly how the inner core works and its rotating mechanism.
Studies show that the inner core comes from measuring the tiny differences in seismic waves created by earthquakes or nuclear explosions as they pass through the central part of the planet.
With the purpose to track the inner core's movements, new research published in the journal Nature Geoscience analyzed seismic waves from repeating earthquakes over the last six decades.
What are the Experts Saying?
The authors of the study, Xiaodong Song and Yi Yang of China's Peking University, declared that they discovered in their study that the inner core's rotation came to a near halt before as well, in 2009 and turned in an opposite direction after that.
They further added
"We believe the inner core rotates, relative to the Earth's surface, back and forth, like a swing, One cycle of the swing is about seven decades".
This means that the planet changes direction roughly every 35 years and previously changed direction in the early 1970s.
They predicted the next about-face would be in the mid-2040s.
The researchers said this rotation roughly lines up with changes in what is called the "length of day" -- small variations in the exact time it takes Earth to rotate on its axis.
So far there is little to indicate that what the inner core does has many effects on surface dwellers but the researchers said they believed there are physical links between all of Earth's layers, from the inner core to the surface. "We hope our study can motivate some researchers to build and test models which treat the whole Earth as an integrated dynamic system," they said.
Suggestions from the Experts Not Involved
The experts who are not involved in the study expressed caution and warned about the mind-spinning findings and noted some different theories.
John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Southern California expressed his concerns saying,
"This is a very careful study by excellent scientists putting in a lot of data, but none of the models explain all the data very well in my opinion,"
His research which was published last year suggested that the inner core oscillates far more quickly, changing direction every six years or so.
Vidale's work was based on seismic waves from two nuclear explosions during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Vidal calls it kind of a coincidence that the timeframe is around the point when Monday's research says the inner core last changed direction.
Vidale's second theory suggests that there is some good evidence supporting that the inner core only significantly moved between 2001 to 2013. It has stayed put ever since said Vidal
A geophysicist at the Australian National University, Hrvoje Tkalcic published his research suggesting that the inner core's cycle is every 20 to 30 years, rather than the 70 proposed in the latest study.
"These mathematical models are most likely all incorrect because they explain the observed data but are not required by the data, therefore, the geophysical community will be divided about this finding and the topic will remain controversial.
He compared seismologists to doctors "who study the internal organs of patients' bodies using imperfect or limited equipment".
Lacking something like a CT scan, "our image of the inner Earth is still blurry", he said, predicting more surprises ahead.
According to him, the inner core might have yet another iron ball inside it similar to a Russian doll.
"Something's happening and I think we're gonna figure it out, but it may take a decade."
Should We Be Worried?
There’s no need to worry as, while the core’s rotation influences Earth’s surface environment, scientists suggest that this periodic spin switch is normal. According to studies, its behavior does not pose risks for life on Earth.
What We know of Earth's Inner Core so far
- The inner core of our planet is a solid metal ball.
- The core is 75 percent the size of the Moon.
- The core can spin at different paces and directions compared to our planet as it is nestled within a liquid outer core
- Though scientists are not very precise on exactly how fast it spins or whether its speed varies over time.
- The inner core is located some 3,000 miles beneath the earth's surface and experiences intense heat which is on the same level as the surface of the Sun.
- The inner core generates Earth’s protective magnetic field, which blocks harmful radiation from reaching the surface.
As the inner core is so remote and difficult to study it remains one of the least understood environments on our planet.