In 1896 when Emil Wiechert proposed his model of the Earth with an iron core and stony shell, scientists generally believed that the entire earth was a solid as rigid as steel. R. D. Oldham’s identification of P and S waves in seismological records allowed him to detect a discontinuity corresponding to a boundary between core and shell (mantle) in 1906, and Beno Gutenberg established the depth of this boundary as 2900 km. But failure to detect propagation of S waves through the core was not sufficient evidence to persuade seismologists that it is fluid (contrary to modern textbook statements). Not until 1926 did Harold Jeffreys refute the arguments for solidity and establish that the core is liquid. In 1936 Inge Lehmann discovered the small inner core. K. E. Bullen argued, on the basis of plausible assumptions about compressibility and density, that the inner core is solid. Attempts to find seismic signals that have passed through the inner core as S waves have so far failed (with one possible exception), but analysis of free oscillations provided fairly convincing evidence for its solidity.
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Papers| September 01 1980
Discovery of the Earth’s core
Am. J. Phys. 48, 705–724 (1980)
Stephen G. Brush; Discovery of the Earth’s core. Am. J. Phys. 1 September 1980; 48 (9): 705–724. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.12026
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