Liquid-in-Solid Convection

A model is proposed in which upward-moving, liquid-in-solid convection cells are the primary mechanism by which the Earth’s interior is cooled. Convection cells form in the liquid core when heat from radioactive sources is convected outward. Each cell penetrates the mantle by melting the rock above it due to the extra heat transported by the cell.  In this way each convection cell propagates upwards through the otherwise solid mantle as the convected heat melts rock above the cell and solidifies magma below it. Because the cells are initiated in the core spontaneously and at random, the model accounts for the observed random nature of many geophysical phenomena. A laboratory experiment is proposed whereby a low melting point solid such as wax is subjected to a high temperature gradient in order to promote liquid-in-solid convection and so emulate aspects of mantle dynamics.

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Two papers providing experimental support for the existence of such liquid convection cells have recently (October 2020) been published in Nature:

Melt Mapped inside the Earth’s Mantle by Laura Cobden


Seismic evidence for partial melt below tectonic plates. Debayle et al