Adam Maloof '98 Explains Polar Wandering On Science Friday

November 9, 2012
By Science Friday, National Public Radio

Did you know that Earth's solid exterior can move around over its core, causing the planet's poles to wander back and forth? Adam Maloof, associate professor of geosciences at Princeton University, discusses the consequences of these shifts, and what may be causing them.  [...]

A new study published in the journal Nature, though, may help explain what causes this colossal slip and slide, and that's what we're talking about next.  [...]

LICHTMAN: OK. So what are we talking about?

MALOOF: We're talking about the rest of the Earth: the crust, the rest of the lithosphere and the entire mantle sliding over the outer core. So the way you imagine this is the core of the Earth, the outer part, is actually fluid iron, and it has about the viscosity of water. So we're literally sliding, you know, 2,700 kilometers of mantle over this so that, as perceived from space, what you'd see is the spin axis is staying the same, but all the continents are moving together to a new location.

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