Since it is hard to delve beyond ten kilometers into the surface, most of the data related to the chemical structure of Earth’s inner layers come from the analysis of volcanic rocks. A mixed team of researchers from two universities has investigated several volcanic rocks which were recovered from a Portuguese chain of islands known as the Azores. They wanted to learn more about the chemical structure of Earth’s mantle, which ranges from 30 to 2,900 kilometers beneath the surface.
With the help of advanced tools and resources, the researchers found out that the chemical structure of the mantle which is situated below the Azores doesn’t relate to data offered by previous research. New data infers that large parts of it contain a minimal amount of incompatible elements, which tend to gather in the crust.
During the evolution of the Earth a significant part of the mantle melted and contributed to the formation of the crust, and the ratio seems to be higher than it was previously thought as researchers believe that massive fluxes between the surface and the interior of the planet were involved in the process.
Earth’s Mantle Chemical Composition Is Different Than Previously Thought, A New Study Concluded
The material found in the Azores comes from the deepest zones of the mantle, but it is quite similar to most of the upper regions. However, the composition of the mantle is a bit different, and the new information may lead to the development of a fresh perspective on the topic.
During the study, the scientists observed and analyzed samples of the mineral olivine and other minerals which were encapsulated during volcanic eruptions. By isolating the melt inclusions, the scientists can track down specific chemical elements. Within these elements, they can trace radioactive decay and estimate their age.
Due to the high accuracy of the methods which were used for conducting tests, the researchers were able to analyze the chemical structure of one billionth of a gram of a specific element. Further research is already underway, and the study was published in a scientific journal.