Geophysics

Ample explanation for seismic variation

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Science  01 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6196, pp. 527-528
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6196.527-h

Geophysicists use seismic waves to make images of Earth's interior, but how they interpret those pictures depends on the properties of the minerals that make up the mantle. Wu and Wentzcovitch show that when the electron configuration of the iron in one of the most abundant minerals in the mantle, ferropericlase, changes at depths of 1000 km and greater, so does the way seismic waves propagate. The authors discuss several seismic features of the mantle previously thought to reflect different arrangements of minerals, such as compressional wave speed variations at depths of around 1750 km. Such features could be due not to mineralogy but to this electronic spin effect.

Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073 pnas.1322427111 (2014).

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