A new study investigates iron’s form at the planet’s interior. The findings have repercussions for understanding the inner core’s structure.
Y. Sun, M. I. Mendelev, F. Zhang, Z. Liu, B. Da, C.-Z Wang, R. M. Wentzcovitch, and K.-M. Ho. Geophys. Res. Lett. (2023). https://doi.org/10.1029/2022GL102447
Iron Is at the Core of This Earth Science Debate by Aaron Sidder, EOS
Earth’s inner core is dominated by iron, which can exist as a solid material in more than one crystallographic form. (This quality allows iron to combine with other elements to form alloys.) Iron’s most stable form at room temperature is the body-centered cubic (bcc) structure. At extremely high pressures, it is stable in its hexagonal close-packed (hcp) phase. Of considerable debate, however, is iron’s structure at the center of Earth. In a new study, Sun et al. get one step closer to an answer.