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Published March 10, 1994 | Published
Journal Article Open

An equation of state for liquid iron and implications for the Earth's core


An equation of state is presented for liquid iron based on published ultrasonic, thermal expansion, and enthalpy data at 1 bar and on pulse-heating and shock wave compression and sound speed data up to 10 Mbar. The equation of state parameters, centered at 1 bar and 1811 K (the normal melting point of iron), are density, ρ_0 = 7019 kg/m^3, isentropic bulk modulus, K_(S0) = 109.7 GPa, and the first- and second-pressure derivatives of K_S, K′_(S0) = 4.66 and K″_(S0) = −0.043 GPa^(−1). A parameterization of the Grüneisen parameter γ as a function of density ρ and specific internal energy E is γ = γ_0 + γ′(ρ/ρ_0)^n(E - E_0) where γ_0 = 1.735, γ′ = −0.130 kg/MJ, n = −1.87, and E_0 is the internal energy of the liquid at 1 bar and 1811 K. The model gives the temperature dependence of γ at constant volume as (∂γ/∂T)_(v|1bar,1811K) = −8.4 × 10^(−5) K^(−1). The constant volume specific heat of liquid Fe at core conditions is 4.0–4.5 R. The model gives excellent agreement with measured temperatures of Fe under shock compression. Comparison with a preliminary reference Earth model indicates that the light component of the core does not significantly affect the magnitude of the isentropic bulk modulus of liquid Fe but does decrease its pressure derivative by ∼10%. Pure liquid Fe is 3–6% more dense than the inner core, supporting the presence of several percent of light elements in the inner core.

Additional Information

Copyright 1994 by the American Geophysical Union. (Received October 5, 1992; revised September 20, 1993; accepted November 5, 1993.) Paper number 93JB03158. We thank D. Anderson and D. Stevenson for helpful discussions and thank R. Jeanloz, E. Knittle, and Q. Williams for copies of their unpublished manuscripts and an anonymous reviewer for many helpful suggestions. Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation grant EAR-9204586. Contribution 4803 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023