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Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 99, Issue 1–4, pp 33–49 | Cite as

Is there a Nuclear Reactor at the Center of the Earth?

  • R.D. Schuiling
Article

Abstract

In this paper we discuss the Herndon hypothesis that a nuclear reactor is operating at the center of the Earth. Recent experimental evidence shows that some uranium can have partitioned into the core. There is no viable mechanism for the small amount of uranium that is dissolved in the molten metal to crystallize as a separate uranium phase (uranium metal or uranium sulfide) and migrate to the center of the core.

There is no need for an extra heat source, as the total heat leaving the core can be easily provided by “classical” heat sources, which are also more than adequate to maintain the Earth’s magnetic field. It is unlikely that nuclear georeactors (fast breeder reactors) are operating at the Earth’s center.

Keywords

Earth’s core heat sources nuclear georeactor meteorites uranium partitioning 

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Notes

Acknowledgments

I wish to thank Valerie Malavergne for providing me with the latest information on uranium partitioning and critically reviewing my text. I thank the organizers of the geoneutrino session in Hawaii for inviting me to participate in this exciting and thought-provoking meeting.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inst. GeosciencesUtrechtThe Netherlands

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