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Planet Interiors

Planet Interiors - Planet Interiors Seismic waves...

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Planet Interiors Seismic waves refract (bend) inside the Earth because of the change in speed of the waves as they move through material of variable density, composition, and temperature. Abrupt changes in direction occur at the boundary between two different layers. P waves entering the core are bent toward the Earth's center so they only reach the part of the Earth's surface opposite the earthquake. There is a shadow zone between the P waves that pass through the mantle only and those that pass through the mantle and the core. The shadow zone location also puts constraints on the size of the liquid core. It has a radius of about 3500 kilometers and is made of an iron- nickel alloy with a small percentage of sulfur, cobalt, and other minerals and has a density of around 12 (water = 1). Very weak P waves are felt in the shadow zone, indicating that a smaller solid component resides at the very center with a radius of about 1300 kilometers and a density around 14. Even though the temperature of the interior increases toward the center (it is about
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