All the volcanism, seismic activity and tectonic plate movement on the Earth is driven by heat deep in the planet’s core. Until now the source of that heat in the core was thought to be two things:
- Primordial heat as the planet slowly cools over the eons from its accretion in the early solar system.
- Radioactive decay of isotopes of uranium, thorium and potassium deep in the planet’s core.
- Tidal heating from the Moon may have played a part in heating the Early formation of the Earth but is considered unimportant now due to the Moon’s distance from the Earth.
But recent data from neutrino detectors in Japan and Italy, indicate that there may not be as much radioactive decay in the core as previously thought. This means that primordial heat is more important and our models of terrestrial planetary formation need to be revised or there is some other heat source we don’t understand yet.