In this series we present fictive “News Articles” which some of us wrote when participating in a Science Communication Workshop at ANU. If you want to know more about the Why and How, please see this post here.      

While the projects described are PhD projects that are on the way at RSES, the results (if they are described) in those “news articles” are by no means final and can be described from “That`s my current interpretation of my data that I came up with last night and I haven`t tested yet” to “Wishfull thinking”.

The aim of this series is to provide you with a glimpse of the diversity of ongoing Earth Science research at ANU, not to present final results.

And now, without further ado …


 

Unravelling the Mysteries
of the Inner Earth

 

By Jennifer

New research into the workings of the inner Earth is being conducted at the Australian National University by graduate student Jennifer Prichard. Ms. Prichard says “The research will provide a unique insight into a part of the Earth which is otherwise impossible to study, and will help us understand just what the inner Earth is made of”.

The chain of volcanos that are collectively known as the Hawaiian Islands will be a case study for the deep-Earth research. This chain of volcanos display a bizarre chemical pattern that is still baffling scientists: the entire north-east side of the island chain is distinctly different from the south-west side.

hawaiian islands_jennifer
The Hawaiian Islands – a chain of volcanos.

This sort of pattern is not typical, and it is often assumed that the chemistry of lavas should be fairly uniform among volcanos that seemingly have the same source. It is possible that this pattern is caused by the presence of two different chemical groups nearly 3000 km deep in the Earth.

Ms. Prichard has stated “by analysing Hawaiian lavas, we will be able to tell at what depths this differentiation occurs. We have good evidence so far that it does occur very deep in the Earth”.

If her hypothesis is correct, it could have significant implications for our fundamental understanding of what the centre of our Earth is made of, and may reveal previously unimagined Earth processes.