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Volume 26 Issue 1
Feb.  2015
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Anne M. Hofmeister*, Robert E. Criss. Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation. Journal of Earth Science, 2015, 17(1): 124-133. doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z
Citation: Anne M. Hofmeister*, Robert E. Criss. Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation. Journal of Earth Science, 2015, 17(1): 124-133. doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z

Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation

doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z
  • Received Date: 2015-03-04
  • Rev Recd Date: 2015-03-04
  • Publish Date: 2015-03-04
  • Core formation by gravitational segregation allegedly released sufficient interior heat to melt the Earth. Analysis of the energetics, which compare gravitational potential energy (Ug) of a fictitious, homogeneous reference state to Earth’s current layered configuration, needs updating to correct errors and omissions, and to accommodate recent findings: (1) An erroneous positive sign was used for Ug while maintaining the reference value of 0 at infinity, which results in an incorrect sign for ΔUg, which is crucial in determining whether a process is endothermic or exothermic. (2) The value of Ug for Earth’s initial state is uncertain. (3) Recent meteorite evidence indicates that core formation began before the Earth was full-sized, which severely limits ?Ug. (4) Inhomogeneous accretion additionally reduced ?Ug. (5) The potentially large effect of differential rotation between the core and the mantle was not accounted for. (6) Entropy changes associated with creating order were neglected. Accordingly, we revise values of Ug, evaluate uncertainties, and show that ?Ug was converted substantially to configurational energy (T?S). These considerations limit the large sources of primordial heat to impacts and radioactivity. Although these processes may play a role in core formation, their energies are independent of gravitational segregation, which produces order and rotational energy, not internal heat. Instead, gravitational segregation promotes planetary cooling mainly because it segregates lithophilic radioactive elements upward, increasing surface heat flux while shortening the distance over which radiogenic heat diffuses outwards.
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    沈阳化工大学材料科学与工程学院 沈阳 110142

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Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation

doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z

Abstract: Core formation by gravitational segregation allegedly released sufficient interior heat to melt the Earth. Analysis of the energetics, which compare gravitational potential energy (Ug) of a fictitious, homogeneous reference state to Earth’s current layered configuration, needs updating to correct errors and omissions, and to accommodate recent findings: (1) An erroneous positive sign was used for Ug while maintaining the reference value of 0 at infinity, which results in an incorrect sign for ΔUg, which is crucial in determining whether a process is endothermic or exothermic. (2) The value of Ug for Earth’s initial state is uncertain. (3) Recent meteorite evidence indicates that core formation began before the Earth was full-sized, which severely limits ?Ug. (4) Inhomogeneous accretion additionally reduced ?Ug. (5) The potentially large effect of differential rotation between the core and the mantle was not accounted for. (6) Entropy changes associated with creating order were neglected. Accordingly, we revise values of Ug, evaluate uncertainties, and show that ?Ug was converted substantially to configurational energy (T?S). These considerations limit the large sources of primordial heat to impacts and radioactivity. Although these processes may play a role in core formation, their energies are independent of gravitational segregation, which produces order and rotational energy, not internal heat. Instead, gravitational segregation promotes planetary cooling mainly because it segregates lithophilic radioactive elements upward, increasing surface heat flux while shortening the distance over which radiogenic heat diffuses outwards.

Anne M. Hofmeister*, Robert E. Criss. Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation. Journal of Earth Science, 2015, 17(1): 124-133. doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z
Citation: Anne M. Hofmeister*, Robert E. Criss. Evaluation of the Heat, Entropy, and Rotational Changes Produced by Gravitational Segregation during Core Formation. Journal of Earth Science, 2015, 17(1): 124-133. doi: 10.1007/s12583-015-0509-z

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