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A Laboratory Model for Convection in Earth's Core Driven by a Thermally Heterogeneous Mantle

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Science  19 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5444, pp. 1547-1549
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5444.1547

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Abstract

Thermal convection experiments in a rapidly rotating hemispherical shell suggest a model in which the convection in Earth's liquid outer core is controlled by a thermally heterogeneous mantle. Experiments show that heterogeneous boundary heating induces an eastward flow in the core, which, at a sufficiently large magnitude, develops into a large-scale spiral with a sharp front. The front separates the warm and cold regions in the core and includes a narrow jet flowing from the core-mantle boundary to the inner-core boundary. The existence of this front in the core may explain the Pacific quiet zone in the secular variation of the geomagnetic field and the longitudinally heterogeneous structure of the solid inner core.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sumita{at}ekman.eps.jhu.edu

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