Speed Reads

certainly not showing any sign of slowing

There's a river of molten iron racing beneath Earth's surface — and it's gaining speed

A look at Earth from outer space revealed a surprising find some 1,400 miles beneath Earth's crust: a molten iron river flowing beneath Russia and Canada. The 260-mile-wide stream, detected by magnetic field readings taken by the European Space Agency's Swarm satellites, is as hot as the Sun's surface and, in recent years, has been flowing progressively faster.

At this point, the stream is flowing westward at a rate of 25 miles per year, a rate "three times faster than the normal outer-core speeds," Gizmodo reported. One scientist told BBC News the flow was "probably the fastest motion we have anywhere within the solid Earth."

While scientists knew Earth's liquid core moved around, the study's team leader Phil Livermore said their "observations hadn't been sufficient until now to see this significant jet." "We know more about the Sun than the Earth's core," said team member Chris Finlay. "The discovery of this jet is an exciting step in learning more about our planet's inner workings."

Scientists think they've figured out the physics of why the river exists in the first place — though why it's speeding up remains a mystery.