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Creation 42(1):21, January 2020

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Earth’s inner core shouldn’t exist!

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Naeblys / Alamy Stock PhotoEarths-inner-core
Figure 1.

Since the 1930s, observations of earthquake-generated seismic waves have indicated that the earth has a liquid outer core and a solid inner core.

Now a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University has concluded that our planet’s “inner core should not exist at all.”1 In a paper titled, ‘Earth’s inner core nucleation paradox’2 they explain that the previously unaccounted for ‘nucleation energy barrier’ (see below) puts a seemingly unassailable hurdle in front of the naturalistic explanation for the inner core’s formation.

The evolutionary story of the earth’s formation has it beginning as a very hot molten ball. So, it is also postulated that the earth’s nickel-iron inner core solidified (‘froze’) as the molten ball of the earth cooled (see fig. 2). Note that the earth’s surface experiences much less pressure than the earth’s core. So, the freezing temperature of Iron at the core is much higher than its freezing temperature at the surface (1538 C).

For a liquid to turn into a solid without an artificial nucleation site (e.g. a foreign particle) present, its temperature needs to drop below the standard freezing point. This extra drop in temperature required is known as the ‘nucleation energy barrier’ (NEB), and its effect can be observed in the clouds—for water drops to turn to ice without dust particles acting as nucleation sites, the temperature needs to fall below -350C (-310F).

Although nucleation theory has been discussed and tested for the last 100 years, it had not previously been applied to the formation of the earth’s inner core. By including the NEB, the Case Western University team calculated that the earth’s liquid metallic core would need 1,0000C of cooling below the standard freezing point before it could crystallize—which would take far too long for evolutionary core formation models to work. The time needed for the formation of the inner core blows out beyond the expected 1-billion-year age to at least 10 billion years, even longer than the alleged 4.5-billion-year age of the entire earth.

growing-inner-core

The inner core’s formation and growth (see fig. 2—as the earth cools, more of the outer core freezes onto the inner core) are also essential to the naturalistic explanation of the earth’s magnetic field. This is an important shield against harmful radiation from the sun, without which life on Earth would be impossible!

With so much at stake, the Case Western team attempts to rescue the naturalistic explanation of the inner core’s formation by suggesting that a nucleation seed could have made its way into the core, thus lowering the nucleation barrier. However, this seed would need to survive all the way to the centre without melting, so it would need to be huge—a radius of about 10 km (6 miles). The Case Western team conclude that there is no known feasible mechanism to achieve this.

Hence the conundrum for long-age earth formation theories; the inner core’s existence is baffling, a paradox.

However, there is no paradox when we start with the biblical position on origins, that the earth did not form over vast ages through natural processes; God created it (and its core) during Creation Week.

References and notes

  1. Specktor, B., Earth’s inner core shouldn’t technically exist; livescience.com, 9 Feb 2018. Return to text.
  2. Huguet, L., Van Orman, J.A., Hauck, S.A., Willard, M.A., Earth’s inner core nucleation paradox, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 487(201):9–20, 2018. Return to text.

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