A non-equilibrium slurry model for planetary cores with application to Earth’s F-layer

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Andrew Walker , Chris Davies , Alfred Wilson , Mike Bergman


Slurry regions may exist in the cores of several terrestrial bodies and are expected to influence the dynamics of deep planetary interiors and the viability of maintaining global magnetic fields. Here we develop a two-component slurry model of the lowermost outer core of the Earth (the F-layer). In contrast to most previous models of slurries in planetary cores, we explicitly model the physics controlling the nucleation, growth, and sinking of individual iron crystals and do not assume that the layer is in phase equilibrium. We assume the layer is in steady state, that falling crystals do not interact, and that the temperature and the overall composition are imposed, which allows us to solve for the volume fraction of solid in the layer and the size distribution of crystals. Models that produce a plausible heat budget, inner core growth rate, and density excess compared to the bulk core yield a solid fraction that is far below that predicted by phase equilibrium and a crystal size distribution dominated by the smallest particles with a maximum particle radii of 3 cm. The model can be used to understand the role of non-equilibrium effects in other planetary cores.




Earth Sciences, Fluid Dynamics, Geophysics and Seismology, Mineral Physics


slurry, non-equilibrium, planetary cores, nucleation, Crystal Growth


Published: 2024-07-09 11:30

Last Updated: 2024-07-09 18:30


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International