Compositional Model for the Earth's Core

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

74 Citations (Scopus)


The remote setting of the Earth's core tests our ability to assess its physical and chemical characteristics. Extending out to half an Earth radius the metallic core constitutes a sixth of the planet's volume and a third of its mass. The boundary between the silicate mantle and the core is remarkable in that it is a zone of greatest contrast in Earth properties. The density increase across this boundary represents a greater contrast than across the crust-ocean surface. Our understanding of the core is based on very few pieces of direct evidence and many fragments of indirect observations. Direct evidence comes from seismology, geodesy, geo- and paleomagnetism, and, relatively recently, isotope geochemistry. Indirect evidence comes from geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and meteoritics; further constraints on the core system are gained from studies in experimental petrology, mineral physics, ab initio calculations, and evaluations of the Earth's energy budget. Feedback loops between all of these disciplines refine other's understanding of the Earth's core.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTreatise on Geochemistry
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780080983004
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Core formation
  • Cosmoschemistry
  • First-order geophysics
  • Major elements
  • Minor elements
  • Radioactive elements
  • The core

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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