Journal Highlights

The role of nickel in heat flow in the Earth’s core

Editor’s Highlight—

 

Understanding the physics that determines pressure-dependent electrical and thermal conductivity in metals is important for understanding the nature of the geodynamo, and its connection with the entire thermal budget of the Earth. This experimental study provides a robust demonstration that the electrical conductivity of nickel (Ni) is constant along its pressure-dependent melting temperature. While Ni is not iron (Fe), which is by far the most abundant element in the core, and the pressures are far lower than core pressures, this paper presents a convincing qualitative argument that Ni and Fe have similar behavior as transition metals, and that these low pressure results for Ni might be invoked to understand the core conductivity. However, the authors are conservative, and stop short of doing this final step--applying their model to a reasonable melting temperature estimate for iron alloy, and calculating an electrical/thermal conductivity for the Earth’s outer core.