00:46 GMT16 January 2021
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    Changes in the molecular structure of iron ore in the Earth's core could mean that Earth has a layer of liquid oxygen, with 10 times as much oxygen as the entire atmosphere.

    A team of Russian and German geophysicists have discovered a new layer in the Earth's core, which is believed to be composed of liquid oxygen.

    While oxygen generally remains a gas at high temperatures, its boiling point goes up in high pressure environments.  Researchers made the discovery by putting samples of iron ore into a laser heating device in a high pressure chamber, which showed that the iron oxides believed to be in the Earth's core decomposed, releasing oxygen.

    "[The] amount of oxygen produced by the formation of Fe5O7 alone can be as high as 8-10 times the mass of oxygen in the modern atmosphere," according to the article which was published based on the research.

    According to the researchers, the liquid oxygen most often flows from undersea iron ore deposits, which flow into the earth's core at continental rifts.

    It remains unknown what happens to the liquid oxygen, whether it reacts with the surrounding mantle or rises to higher layers. The liquid oxygen's influence on the Earth's atmosphere and climate also remains unknown.

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    Tags:
    iron ore, core, oxygen, science, Earth
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