The Earth is releasing gases, and they are coming from its core, this American study tells us – HuffPost

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IStock/TheHuffpost

Researchers have observed that helium appears to come from the center of the Earth. (Illustrative image)

EARTH – Yes, the earth also sometimes releases gases. This is not a new phenomenon. But here traces of helium and neon (another so-called noble gas) seem to come from deep within the earth. That’s what a group of geochemists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the California Institute of Technology found in a study published Oct. 18 in the journal Nature.

The latter was based on data from a previous study conducted on Baffin Island, Canada’s largest island. They analyzed olivines, a type of ore in the silicate family, and found that they trap a gas, helium, at a concentration 50 times higher than normal.

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Gases from the Earth’s youth

Geochemists then attempted to determine the cause and origin of this abundance of gas. Because helium is not the element that we often encounter on Earth. Light in particular hardly prevents it from escaping the atmosphere and drifting in space. This makes it a rare material on the planet’s surface.

One thing is certain: they exist beneath our feet, at the heart of our planet. During its formation (billions of years ago), the Earth “swallowed” helium. And after around 4.6 billion years of activity, most of that helium has been evacuated, thanks in particular to volcanic activity.

Not at all. Currently, the exact amount of trapped gas is one of the great unknowns in geology. This is therefore an interesting discovery, although it remains to be ensured that it is actually gas coming from the interior of the planet. To confirm this, researchers confirmed that there was no contamination from the atmosphere.

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This is not the case because the isotope (the atomic mass, editor’s note) is different. The helium found in the lavas and olivines of Baffin Island in Canada contains helium 3 (3HE), lighter than the commonly observed helium 4 (4HE). The researchers also carried out measurements on another noble gas found in the same location: neon. Bingo, the dates are similar. This other gas also seems to come from deep within the earth.

At the origins of our planet

Tracing the life course of these gases is complicated but possible. To do this, researchers carry out simulations that take into account the pressure and composition inside our planet. This gives you an overview of the route these gases could take. Specifically, the latter were initially trapped in the Earth’s core and as our planet grew, they tried to escape and return to the surface.

These gases can then provide valuable information about the Earth’s core. The latter is hidden behind thousands of kilometers of dense, hot rock and is completely inaccessible to scientists. The only way to investigate it is to look at the clues that reach us on the surface, such as these gas leaks. They come from Earth’s origins and can provide valuable information about the origins of our beautiful blue planet.

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