Helium-3 flows out of the Earth’s core. Scientists explain why this happens

Scientists could explain how helium-3 contained in the Earth’s core leaked to the surface. It dissolves in magnesium dioxide, which is contained in the mantle of our planet, and rises to the surface for millions of years. 

Helium-3 is seeping out of the Earth’s core. Source: www.kxan.com

Helium-3 in the depths of the Earth

Two researchers (one from Princeton University in the USA, and the other from China) have recently been able to explain how helium-3 gets from the Earth’s core to the surface of our planet. This substance is a light isotope of the second most massive element of the periodic system, which has only one neutron in the nucleus instead of the usual two. 

Helium and, in particular, its light isotope are very common in the Universe, but they practically do not occur on the surface of the Earth. And this is very upsetting, because they are valuable thermonuclear fuel that would allow the construction of new powerful and clean reactors.

Recently, studies of volcanic rocks on the ocean floor have shown that they contain a significant amount of helium-3. It also became known that there is a lot of this substance in the core of our planet. Obviously, it got there at the very beginning of the existence of the Solar System.

Way through the Mantle

Until now, scientists have not been able to understand how helium-3 from the Earth’s core gets to its surface. After all, for this it has to overcome several thousand kilometers of extremely dense rocks. A new study has shown that this process can be explained by the physical process of dissolution.

Even previous experiments have shown that helium-3 in contact with magnesium oxide, which is contained in the Earth’s mantle, can react with it and transform it from a crystal into a multiphase system. In fact, we are talking about that this gas dissolves in magma and can travel with it.

In a new study, scientists conducted mathematical modeling, which showed that this process was enough to deliver helium-3 to the Earth’s surface in a tangible amount. Of course, this requires a huge amount of time. However, the process has been going on almost continuously for all the billions of years that our planet has existed.

According to phys.org.

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