Scientists Discovered a Mystery Layer in Earth's Core

The new fifth layer is the "innermost inner core" of our planet.
Fabienne Lang
An illustration of Earth's layersAlexLMX/iStock

We may understand more about our planet's history now that scientists have discovered a new layer in Earth's core.

Led by researchers at the Australian National University (ANU), the team confirmed the existence of the Earth's "innermost inner core."

It's still hard to analyze and observe this newly uncovered layer explained Joanne Stephenson, lead author of the study, but it may point us to an unknown, mystery event that happened during our Earth's history.

"It's very exciting - and might mean we have to re-write the textbooks!" she said.

The team's study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Earth's "new" inner core layer

This new layer's composition suggests that our planet's history may have included two different cooling events. Investigating and analyzing our planet's inner core helps us better understand its history and evolution.

What we've known up until this recent ANU study is that Earth is made up of four main layers: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. The new layer the team discovered is located within the inner core. 

Even though the team's findings are new, this concept of another layer has been loosely around for a few years. However, the "data was very unclear," Stephenson pointed out.

"We got around this by using a very clever search algorithm to trawl through thousands of the models of the inner core."

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There's still a lot more studying and observing to be done before the team's conclusions can be fully confirmed, wrote Science Alert. That being said, the researchers' conclusion does align nicely with the other studies that also focused on Earth's innermost inner core. 

Better understanding our Earth's structure, and thus history, enables us to understand changes that occurred before humans could observe them, and to relate them to modern day geological changes. 

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