Earth’s Mysteriously Light Core Contains Brimstone
Biblical views of the center of the Earth as a hellish pit raging with fire and brimstone have some support from new research. Scientists have found that the vast majority of brimstone — reverently referred to in biblical times as “burning stone,” but now known more commonly as sulfur — dwells deep in the Earth’s core.
“In a way, we can also say that we have life imitating art,” study lead author Paul Savage, a research scientist in the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.”For millennia, tales have been told of the underworld being awash with fire and brimstone. Now at least, we can be sure of the brimstone.”
The researchers estimate that the Earth’s core contains 10 times the amount of sulfur than in the rest of the world, or comparable to about 10 percent of the mass of the moon. [Religion and Science: 6 Visions of Earth’s Core]
Scientists have generally understood that at the time of Earth’s formation, heavy metals such as iron and nickel sunk to the planet’s core, and light elements, like oxygen, silicon, aluminum, potassium, sodium, and calcium, mostly concentrated in the outer layers of the Earth, in the mantle and crust.
However, the mass of the Earth’s solid inner core, which is too light to be composed solely of metal, has been an enduring inconsistency in our understanding of the planet’s distribution of elements. To explain the core’s lighter-than-expected weight, scientists assumed that the core had to contain some lighter elements, such as oxygen, carbon, silicon and sulfur.
“Scientists have suspected that there is sulphur in the core for some time, but this is the first time we have solid geochemical evidence to support the idea,” Savage said.
Confirming the presence of lighter elements, like sulfur, in the core, provides information about the temperatures, pressures and oxygen content in the Earth’s mantle, which surrounds the core and separates it from the crust on which we walk. “It’d be nice to know what the Earth is formed of, as a fundamental aspect of understanding the Earth,” Savage told Live Science.
Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/earths-mysteriously-light-core-contains-brimstone-132021387.html