A thorough understanding of the ‘solid Earth’ system is essential for deciphering the links between processes occurring deep inside Earth and those occurring nearer the surface that lead to seismic activity such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the rise of mountains and the location of underground natural resources. Thanks to gravity and magnetic data from satellites along with seismology, scientists are on the way to modelling inner Earth in 3D.
Solid Earth refers to the crust, mantle and core. Because these parts of our world are completely hidden from view, understanding what is going on deep below our feet can only be done by using indirect measurements.
New results, based on a paper published recently in Geophysical Journal International reveal how scientists are using a range of different measurements including satellite data along with seismological models to start producing a global 3D Earth reference model.
The model will make a step change in being able to analyse Earth’s lithosphere, which is the rigid outer shell, and the underlying mantle to understand the link between Earth’s structure and the dynamic processes within.
While this is just a first step, 3D Earth offers tantalising insights into the deep structure of our world. For example, the new models of the thickness of the crust and the lithosphere are important for unexplored continents like Antarctica.