New light on how the Earth behaves

After almost 200 years of scientific investigation of the Earth, two vital questions have remained essentially unanswered.

Earthquakes have been studied in great detail. But the underlying source of these, and their place in the Earth’s Energy Budget, have not been explained.

Although the fact that the Earth has greatly expanded has been looked at since the 1830s, the source and mechanism of this expansion has never had a satisfactory explanation.

Now Australian scientist David Noel has put forward models which answer both questions in combination. In his article “Two Keys To Understanding The Earth — The Energy of Earthquakes, and the Cause of Expansion”, at, he shows that compacted neutrons formed at the Earth’s core when it was formed some 4.7 billion years ago have been decaying very slowly ever since.

When a neutron decays into a proton and an electron, energy is released, and this energy shows up partly in the heat coming up to the Earth’s surface. But, most importantly, the hydrogen atom formed from the proton and electron is more than a trillion times the size of the neutron which decayed.

Expansion of the Earth is thus a result of the huge increase in volume occasioned by the decay. Earthquakes are the result of the Earth accommodating to this expansion.


The article looks at the quantitative aspect of the energy released in the process, and shows this earthquake energy is the second largest item in the Earth’s energy budget, after energy received from the Sun. It far exceeds the amount of energy which could be produced by earlier suggestions, such as radioactive decay or residual heat left from formation.

The article shows that the formation in the Universe of bodies of every size, from the most massive stars down to the smallest asteroids, involves gravitational compressive forces leading to dense cores. When the mass of a body is that of Mars or greater, compression is great enough to form compacted neutrons.

In the well-known “neutron stars”, these consist almost entirely of compacted neutrons. Believed to have been formed by a star blowing off all its outer layers in a nova-type explosion, the same model explains where the compacted neutrons came from.

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