Speeding jet of Siberian liquid hot Magma getting speedier, satellites find

Swarm gazers find faster flows in the outer core

A speeding jet of magma 420 kilometres wide, described nearly as hot as the Sun's surface underneath Russia is moving three times faster that previously recorded, scientists say.

The jet is now travelling at up to 45 kilometres a year underneath Siberia towards Europe, triple the pace of other outer core liquids, thanks to movements within the Earth's core that squeeze the liquid.

Project lead Dr Philip Livermore and Rainer Hollerbach of the University of Leeds, UK together with Christopher Finlay of the Technical University of Denmark observed the speed shift using the European Space Agency's three Swarm satellites that can detect variations in the Earth's magnetic field as deep as 3,000 kilometres.

It is one of the first deep Earth discoveries by Swarm which has provided scientists with unprecedented resolution into the core thanks to its ability to allow different sources of magnetism to be separated.

The discovery is providing greater insight into the Earth's mysterious core and its magnetic fields, Livermore says.

“Thanks to the mission we have gained new insights into the dynamics of Earth’s core and it’s the first time this jet stream has been seen, and not only that – we also understand why it’s there," Dr Livermore says.

“We can explain it as acceleration in a band of core fluid circling the pole, like the jet stream in the atmosphere."

The magma jets. Image: supplied.

It is not entirely known what drives the molten fluid to the boundary between regions in the core from where it is squished out into the jet stream, but the team suspects it may be driven by changes to the magnetic field within the core.

“We know more about the Sun than Earth’s core because the Sun is not hidden from us by 3,000 km of rock," Finlay says.

The Earth's dynamic magnetic field could lead to the stream changing course over time, the team says.

The findings are detailed in the paper An accelerating high-latitude jet in Earth’s core published in the journal Nature. ®


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