Is Earth's Core Young at Heart Flyer

Embark on a journey to the center of the planet with Dr. Peter Driscoll as he unravels the mysteries that surround Earth's habitability in our upcoming Neighborhood Lecture Series event on December 7, 2023. 

In this compelling talk, Driscoll, a Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Laboratory, will guide us through his recent research to investigate the thermal evolution of our planet's interior. The spotlight of the discussion will be Earth's inner core, a solid sphere of iron at the heart of our planet, which may hold the key to unlocking Earth's history.

Scientists think that the inner core is slowly growing as the core cools over time and that this growth powers the geodynamo—the convective motion of liquid iron in Earth’s outer core that creates our planet's magnetic field. Life on Earth’s surface cannot exist without our magnetic field, which allows our planet to sustain an atmosphere and deflects dangerous ionizing particles from solar wind and cosmic rays. Understanding the geodynamo is essential to understanding the development of life on Earth and the potential habitability of other planets.

In the last decade, significant progress has been made in understanding the physics of inner core solidification, but its nucleation age—the time when it first began to solidify—remains a mystery. In this talk, Driscoll will describe how the latest theoretical models and paleomagnetic observations are homing in on this outstanding question and why a "young" inner core may imply that the geodynamo came close to its death 600 million years ago.

This talk promises to be an unforgettable experience, so mark your calendars for December 7, 2023, and join us as we explore the implications of our planet's inner life and what makes Earth young at heart.

Peter Driscoll Portrait

Meet the Speaker

Peter Driscoll is a Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Laboratory. Much of Driscoll's research is driven by a single question: What makes Earth a habitable planet?

Driscoll employs an assortment of numerical methods and models to investigate the thermal evolution of Earth’s interior, dynamics of the core, polarity reversals of Earth’s magnetic field, magnetic-limited atmospheric escape, coupled surface-interior volatile cycling, the divergence of Earth and Venus, and the internal dynamics and detectability of terrestrial exoplanets. 

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