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Melting of Iron under Earth's Core Conditions from Diffusion Monte Carlo Free Energy Calculations
 

Summary: Melting of Iron under Earth's Core Conditions
from Diffusion Monte Carlo Free Energy Calculations
Ester Sola1
and Dario Alfe`1,2
1
Thomas Young Centre@UCL, and Department of Earth Sciences, UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
2
London Centre for Nanotechnology, and Department of Physics and Astronomy, UCL,
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
(Received 13 May 2009; published 14 August 2009)
The temperature of Earth's core is a parameter of critical importance to model the thermal structure of
Earth. Since the core is mainly made of iron, with a solid liquid boundary (the inner core boundary) at
1220 km from the center of the Earth, the melting temperature of iron at the pressure of the ICB provides
constraints on the temperature of the core. These constraints are based either on extrapolations to ICB
pressure of experimental measurements, or on theoretical calculations which employed various flavors of
quantum mechanics, most notably density functional theory. Significant disagreement between estimates
obtained with different methods calls for calculations based on more accurate techniques. Here we used
quantum Monte Carlo techniques to compute the free energies of solid and liquid iron at ICB conditions.
We obtained an iron melting temperature at 330 GPa of 6900 400 K.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.078501 PACS numbers: 91.35.x, 02.70.Ss, 62.50.p

  

Source: Alf, Dario - Departments of Earth Sciences & Physics and Astronomy, University College London

 

Collections: Physics; Geosciences