There appears to be a leak in Earth’s core. This revelation, presented by scientists in a recent study featured in the journal Nature, is based on ancient lava flows found on Baffin Island, located within Canada’s Arctic Archipelago.
These lava samples showcased unparalleled ratios of helium-3, helium-4, and another isotope, the highest ever detected in terrestrial volcanic stones.
These scientific findings suggest that these lava flows might originate from deep within the Earth’s core, potentially indicating a seepage allowing the lava to ascend to the surface.
The ramifications of such a phenomenon for the core remain ambiguous since our knowledge about the core is rather limited; we essentially recognize its existence and little else.
The trail leading to this discovery begins with helium-3. Recognized as an exceedingly rare isotope, the majority of helium-3 in existence can be traced back to the cosmic event of the Big Bang, roughly 13.8 billion years prior.
A portion of this ancient helium-3 was ensnared in Earth’s core during our planet’s formation. The recent excitement surrounding the identification of helium-3 in lunar crystals underscores the isotope’s rarity.
Given the detected concentrations of helium-3 in the studied lava flows, researchers postulate that these flows might have their origins deep within Earth’s core.
Another prevailing theory suggests that minuscule quantities of helium-3 and other scarce elements might find their way out of the core, journeying to the Earth’s crust, though the specifics of this process remain elusive.
While it’s long been acknowledged that Baffin Island’s geological formations house helium-3, the aim of the recent study was to gauge just how elevated these levels truly were compared to prior assessments.
Their analysis revealed even greater concentrations than previously identified, bolstering the hypothesis that Earth’s core experiencing some form of leakage.
Fortunately, this situation doesn’t appear to pose any immediate threat. The helium-3 concentrations within these rocks are not significant enough to be hazardous, and given helium’s nature as a noble gas, it refrains from reacting chemically with other elements.
Additionally, the specific region on Baffin Island where these lava flows are observed is notably isolated, reducing the likelihood of inadvertent human exposure unless one intentionally seeks out the location.