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Geoneutrinos and the energy budget of the Earth

Journal of Geodynamics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jog.2011.10.005
  • Heat Flow
  • Heat Generation
  • Energy Budget
  • Bulk Silicate Earth
  • Urey Number
  • Core Cooling
  • Mantle Cooling
  • Physics


Abstract The total energy loss of the Earth is well constrained by heat flux measurements on land, the plate cooling model for the oceans, and the buoyancy flux of hotspots. It amounts to 46 ± 2 TW. The main sources that balance the total energy loss are the radioactivity of the Earth's crust and mantle, the secular cooling of the Earth's mantle, and the energy loss from the core. Only the crustal radioactivity is well constrained. The uncertainty on each of the other components is larger than the uncertainty of the total heat loss. The mantle energy budget cannot be balanced by adding the best estimates of mantle radioactivity, secular cooling of the mantle, and heat flux from the core. Neutrino observatories in deep underground mines can detect antineutrinos emitted by the radioactivity of U and Th. Provided that the crustal contribution to the geoneutrino flux can be very precisely calculated, it will be possible to put robust constraints on mantle radioactivity and its contribution to the Earth's energy budget. Equally strong constraints could be obtained from a deep ocean observatory without the need of crustal correction. In the future, it may become possible to obtain directional information on the geoneutrino flux and to resolve radial variations in concentration of heat producing elements in the mantle.

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