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Silicon identified as ‘missing element’ in Earth’s core

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have claimed that Silicon (Si) is the ‘missing element’ in the Earth’s core. This discovery could help us to better understand how our world formed.

According to them silicon likely makes up a significant proportion of Earth’s core after its major constituents iron and nickel. It was missing element in the deep interiors of our planet that has eluded us for decades.

Key Facts
  • It was found that silicon is a major element and constitutes about 5% of the Earth’s inner core by weight. It could be dissolved into the iron-nickel alloys.
  • For the study, scientists recreated the high temperatures and pressures found in the deep interior of the Earth’s core. They recreated alloys of iron and nickel and mixed them with silicon.
  • They then subjected these alloys to the immense pressures and temperatures that exist in the inner core.
  • Scientists discovered that this mixture matched what was seen in the Earth’s interior with seismic data.

Note: The innermost part of Earth i.e. core is thought to be a solid ball with a radius of about 1,200 kilometres. It is far too deep to investigate directly, so scientists study this region’s make-up using seismic wave. Earth’s core is mainly composed of iron (makes up about 85% of its weight) and nickel (accounts for about 10% of the core).

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