Multiple Experimental Efforts to Understand the Structure and Dynamics of Earth’s Core
Monday, 15 December 2014: 10:20 AM
It requires integration of data from different types of high-pressure experiments to understand the structure and dynamics of Earth's core. In particular, measurements of physical properties and element partitioning in systems relevant to the core provide complementary data to narrow down the range of possible core compositions. We have performed both static and dynamic compression experiments and combined results from these with literature data to establish a reliable thermal equation of state of iron. This allows us to precisely determine the density deficit in the solid inner core. The combination of density and sound velocity measurements for both solid and liquid iron and its alloys provide tight constraints on the density deficit in the liquid outer core and the amount of sulphur required to match the geophysical observations. We then conducted element-partitioning experiments between solid and liquid iron in both multi-anvil apparatus and the laser-heated diamond-anvil cell to determine the sulphur, silicon, and oxygen partitioning between the liquid outer core and solid inner core. We present newly developed high-pressure experimental and nano-scale analytical techniques that allow us to simulate the conditions of the inner core boundary (ICB) and analyze the chemical compositions of coexisting phases in the recovered samples. We have established protocols to obtain high-quality partitioning data in the laser-heating diamond-anvil cell combined with FIB/SEM crossbeam technology. The partitioning data obtained up to at least 200 GPa provide additional criteria to explain the observed density and velocity jumps at the ICB.