Research Topic

Stratification in the Cores of Earth and other Planets

About this Research Topic

Based on mineral physics and seismic studies, it has been proposed that parts of the liquid outer core of the Earth and other terrestrial planets are stably stratified, in particular near the boundaries. Such stratification may have profound impacts on the convective state of these cores and the morphology of the magnetic field they generate. Stratification at the top of Earth’s core may have consequences for interpretations of the secular variation, including magnetic flux concentration, magnetic diffusion and dipole changes. It has also been suggested that a stratified layer prevails above the inner core boundary, possibly in the form of a slurry layer. Such a layer may be associated with the growth and/or internal dynamics of the inner core and the release of light elements to the outer core which is the primary source of energy for the geodynamo. Chemically stratified layers may be primordial or form slowly through differentiation, such as the solidification of the inner core or bulk precipitation of a minor species. Stratification may prevail in other planets as well. For example, the weak intensity of Mercury’s magnetic field and the axisymmetry of Saturn’s magnetic field may both be explained by a skin effect due to stratification at the top of the dynamo region of these planets.

The scope of this Research Topic encompasses evidence for (or against) stratification at the outer cores of Earth and other planets, and their dynamical consequences for core convection and the generated planetary magnetic fields. Such studies encompass multiple disciplines, including geomagnetism, dynamo simulations, mineral physics, seismology, thermal history models, and more. We welcome manuscripts dealing with all aspects of core stratification, including their observed magnetic signature and their dynamical implications, for Earth and for other planets.


Keywords: stratification, dynamo, convection, magnetic field, secular variation, thermal conductivity


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Based on mineral physics and seismic studies, it has been proposed that parts of the liquid outer core of the Earth and other terrestrial planets are stably stratified, in particular near the boundaries. Such stratification may have profound impacts on the convective state of these cores and the morphology of the magnetic field they generate. Stratification at the top of Earth’s core may have consequences for interpretations of the secular variation, including magnetic flux concentration, magnetic diffusion and dipole changes. It has also been suggested that a stratified layer prevails above the inner core boundary, possibly in the form of a slurry layer. Such a layer may be associated with the growth and/or internal dynamics of the inner core and the release of light elements to the outer core which is the primary source of energy for the geodynamo. Chemically stratified layers may be primordial or form slowly through differentiation, such as the solidification of the inner core or bulk precipitation of a minor species. Stratification may prevail in other planets as well. For example, the weak intensity of Mercury’s magnetic field and the axisymmetry of Saturn’s magnetic field may both be explained by a skin effect due to stratification at the top of the dynamo region of these planets.

The scope of this Research Topic encompasses evidence for (or against) stratification at the outer cores of Earth and other planets, and their dynamical consequences for core convection and the generated planetary magnetic fields. Such studies encompass multiple disciplines, including geomagnetism, dynamo simulations, mineral physics, seismology, thermal history models, and more. We welcome manuscripts dealing with all aspects of core stratification, including their observed magnetic signature and their dynamical implications, for Earth and for other planets.


Keywords: stratification, dynamo, convection, magnetic field, secular variation, thermal conductivity


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2018 Abstract
31 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2018 Abstract
31 May 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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