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Earth's Inner Core dynamics induced by the Lorentz force


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      Seismic studies indicate that the Earth's inner core has a complex structure and exhibits a strong elastic anisotropy with a cylindrical symmetry. Among the various models which have been proposed to explain this anisotropy, one class of models considers the effect of the Lorentz force associated with the magnetic field diffused within the inner core. In this paper we extend previous studies and use analytical calculations and numerical simulations to predict the geometry and strength of the flow induced by the poloidal component of the Lorentz force in a neutrally or stably stratified growing inner core, exploring also the effect of different types of boundary conditions at the inner core boundary (ICB). Unlike previous studies, we show that the boundary condition that is most likely to produce a significant deformation and seismic anisotropy is impermeable, with negligible radial flow through the boundary. Exact analytical solutions are found in the case of a negligible effect of buoyancy forces in the inner core (neutral stratification), while numerical simulations are used to investigate the case of stable stratification. In this situation, the flow induced by the Lorentz force is found to be localized in a shear layer below the ICB, which thickness depends on the strength of the stratification, but not on the magnetic field strength. We obtain scaling laws for the thickness of this layer, as well as for the flow velocity and strain rate in this shear layer as a function of the control parameters, which include the magnitude of the magnetic field, the strength of the density stratification, the viscosity of the inner core, and the growth rate of the inner core. We find that the resulting strain rate is probably too small to produce significant texturing unless the inner core viscosity is smaller than about \(10^{12}\) Pa.s.

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      08 June 2015

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      submitted to Geophysical Journal International
      physics.geo-ph physics.class-ph physics.flu-dyn


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