What Is the Temperature of the Earth's Mantle?

February 14, 2024

Everyone knows that the earth is a very hot place, but just how hot exactly? The temperature of the earth's mantle varies greatly depending on depth. It can range from 1,652 degrees Fahrenheit close to the crust, up to 7,230 degrees Fahrenheit closer to the core. This layer of the planet is responsible for many things, including volcanic eruptions and plate tectonics.

Scientists have a good idea of how much heat is in the mantle because they can measure it using seismic waves. These waves travel through the Earth's solid rock and are slowed down when they pass through rocks near their melting point. The resulting data is used to estimate the temperature of the mantle.

The source of most of the mantle's heat is the radioactive decay of isotopes like potassium and uranium. However, over time the Earth will lose this heat to the universe, so the mantle needs additional sources of energy to keep it molten.

One such way is by absorbing the heat from the core, but this only occurs in a small part of the mantle. The rest of the mantle is heated by convection currents, which allow hotter and lighter material to rise up through cooler, denser material below it. This process happens at tectonic plate boundaries and in hot spot volcanoes.

A new study suggests that the water content of the mantle also affects its melting point. Scientist Emily Sarafian, a doctoral student at MIT, used a piston-cylinder apparatus to recreate the high temperatures and pressures found deep inside the earth. Then she analyzed the results for the presence of water in the mantle. The analysis showed that the higher the temperature, the more the mantle melted, and the lower the water content, the less it melted. This information will help scientists understand how the tectonic plates glide on top of the mantle.

Mission

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