Although we have gone on to discover other planets, Earth is still a very unknown star. As an example of this ignorance, a team of scientists, searching 30 years of earthquake data, discovered new structures in the depths of the Earth. As such, in an exciting and unexpected way, our star still manages to surprise scientists.

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland, USA, discovered a large structure composed of thick material near the Earth’s core.

As it was made known in the Science publication last Friday, the data collected over several decades may have hidden hints of something that is surprising scientists. The thick material now discovered is approximately 3,000 kilometers below our feet.

The team used an automatic learning algorithm to investigate this mysterious phenomenon that occurs deep within the Earth.

An amazing discovery in the bowels of the Earth

One of these major anomalies is located just below the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and has never been detected before. Another is well below the Hawaiian Islands, also in the Pacific, and this one is much larger than previously thought.

The team, led by Doyeon Kim, a seismologist at the University of Maryland, used seismograms from hundreds of different earthquakes between 1990 and 2018 and placed them in an automatic learning algorithm called Sequencer.

This study is very special because, for the first time, we were able to systematically analyze a set of data so large that it actually covers more or less the entire Pacific basin.

The seismologist explained in an interview with the Vice .


After performing thousands of seismograms for the Sequencer, Kim and his team found that the strongest signals were found under the Marquesas and Hawaii islands. This proves that there are two “ mega-ULVZs ” zones that cover about 1,000 kilometers or more.

Mega-ULVZs are huge structures that are composed of exotic materials that date back to the time before Earth had a Moon.

This is very interesting because it may indicate that mega-ULVZs are special and can host primitive geochemical signatures that have been relatively demystified since the beginning of Earth’s history.

Earth - Semi

The team plans to continue its investigation deep within the Earth’s surface. As you mentioned, they are developing a method to keep an eye on the Earth and find out what else is down there. The hope is also to look at what lies beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

We hope that the Sequencer can basically allow us to use all these diverse data sets and bring them together to systematically search for these lower mantle structures. This is our vision going forward, to answer more questions about the lower mantle in general.

Doyeon Kim concluded.

Ryan Warner
Ryan is a US based student, he is currently pursuing his Advanced Astronomy degree.
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