Core formation and properties

Earth’s core consists of the liquid outer core and solid inner core, which is an almost iron-nickel alloy. Seismic and cosmochemical observations indicate light elements as impurities are alloyed with iron-nickel and exist in the core. Understanding the role of light elements in core dynamics and constraining the abundance of light elements in the core depend on chemical and physical properties of iron-light element alloys at terrestrial planet cores’ pressure and temperature conditions. In addition, constraining the core-mantle boundary heat flow as well as the heat budget in the core is essential to understanding the power of present-day geodynamo and mantle thermal convection (Figure after Driscoll and Du, 2019).

I am conducting various experiments and modeling to investigate the physical and chemical properties of iron-light element alloys and their dynamic implications: (1) spin/magnetic transition of iron-light element alloys and its effects; (2) structure and physical properties of molten iron-light element alloys; (3) constraining core-mantle boundary heat flux from geochemical and geodynamics modeling; (4) volatile elements partitioning and solubility during core mantle differentiation.

Mingda Lyu, Dr.
Instrumentation Scientist

Instrumentation Scientist