An ancient 'primordial' substance is 'leaking' out of the Earth's core

Scientists have detected rare primordial gases left over from the Big Bang escaping the Earth's core, namely the helium-3 isotope.

Published Wed, Mar 30 2022 6:39 AM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Apr 25 2022 2:06 AM CDT

A study on the leaking substance titled "Primordial Helium-3 Exchange Between Earth's Core and Mantle" has been published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.

An ancient 'primordial' substance is 'leaking' out of the Earth's core 01 |

Helium exists in two stable forms on Earth, the helium-4 isotope and helium-3 isotope. The former contains two protons and two neutrons and accounts for approximately 99.99986 percent of all helium on Earth. Helium-3 consists of two protons and one neutron and accounts for approximately 0.000137 percent of all helium on Earth.

Helium-4 primarily comes from the radioactive decay of heavier elements, while most helium-3 remains from the Big Bang, hence primordial. Helium-3 has been detected leaking out from the Earth's core into the crust at a rate of roughly two kilograms (4.4 pounds) per year. The detection of primordial gases escaping the core provides clues about the conditions of Earth's formation. When the Earth formed, it did so inside a solar nebula, the same molecular cloud that birthed our Sun.

"It's a wonder of nature, and a clue for the history of the Earth, that there's still a significant amount of this isotope in the interior of the Earth," said Peter Olson from the University of New Mexico.

You can read more from the study here.

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