Experts say that the Earth's core is slowing down, and the length of days may change

Experts say that the Earth's core is slowing down, and the length of days may change

The Earth's inner core is made of an alloy of iron and nickel, and according to researchers at the University of Southern California, its movement slows down relative to the planet's surface. The study, published this month in the journal Nature, indicates that all the consequences are still unknown, but this change may cause changes in the length of days, which may become longer.

The publication reports that the inner core, which is located more than 4,800 kilometers from the Earth’s surface and with dimensions similar to those of the Moon, has reduced its rotation speed since 2010, meaning that it is slower than outside the planet. The temperature of the Earth's interior reaches 5,400 degrees, which – combined with the distance – makes field work for scientists impossible.

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The reliable evidence for the research was the seismic activities of earthquakes recorded since then, which represent the internal movements of the Earth. Researchers have delved into studies of Earth's seismic activities recorded in earthquakes, including those recorded at the same location.

The study data included earthquake records in the South Sandwich Islands region, a British territory, where 121 earthquakes were recorded between 1991 and 2023. Another source of research was data on Soviet nuclear tests, from 1971 to 1974, information from France and France. US nuclear tests were also included in the investigation.

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These scientists' analyzes were converted into seismic diagrams and records of ground movement. They analyzed how seismic waves propaated across the planet, and in this way, it was possible to estimate the location and type of motion of the inner core.

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As the work suggests, this slowing down of the Earth's core was the result of movements of the outer part (since one is intrinsically linked to the other). These changes on the surface form a magnetic field on Earth, which suffers from changes in gravitational forces in the mantle, located between the core and the surface.

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This slowness in nuclear motion could change the length of a day in fractions of a second, but that could be practically imperceptible to humans, says researcher John Vidal, one of the article's authors and a professor of earth sciences in the university's College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The inner core has slowed down for the first time in many decades. Other scientists have recently discussed similar and different models, but our latest study provides the most convincing solution,” the professor said.

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