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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: December 2020

7 - Physics and Chemistry of Deep Earth


The currently accepted age of Earth is 4.55 billion years, a figure that has not changed significantly for 70 years. From the 1850s to the 1950s, the question of the age of Earth advanced from simply being an airy speculation driven by those geologists willing to allow an indefinitely large amount of past time and those biologists who favored evolution. Unexpected discoveries in physics and chemistry transformed Earth history from intelligent guesswork to a precision science defined by physical laws. This chapter summarizes a century-long pathway of discoveries in physics that would dramatically improve our understanding of the age and properties of the deep Earth, and in particular the deep secrets hidden locked in the carbon atoms in the interior of Earth.

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