Exploring Earth

A boy and girl standing in front of a green and blue vertical information panel have their hands on a grey framed exhibit, which has 3 chrome spheres. The girl has a small mallet, and is hitting the centre sphere.
A boy and girl standing in front of a green and blue vertical information panel have their hands on a grey framed exhibit, which has 3 chrome spheres. The girl has a small mallet.

Scientists can explore what is inside the Earth by studying vibrations.

How it works

Tap each globe and listen carefully. Look at the base of each globe to check what is inside.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • How can we know what is inside the Earth?
  • Do you notice a difference in the sound and 'feel’ of each globe?

Background

Scientists can explore what is inside the Earth by studying vibrations—similar to the different vibrations in the metal globes. Humans have only drilled about 12 kilometres deep so far, so scientists study vibration patterns to 'see’ inside the Earth. Vibrations travel through the earth and are measured on the Earth’s surface.

Finding the science in your world

As well as studying earthquake vibrations (seismic waves), scientists use explosions and very heavy impacting machinery to generate vibrations. If vibrations slow down, scientists can work out whether they passed through dense rock, soft molten rock or even rock containing gas or oil. Scientists believe that the Earth’s central core may contain solid crystals, surrounded by a liquid shell.