34 votes
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Do fossil fuels insulate the crust from the Earth's interior?

Quoting from John Russell's response to this article, "This is arrant nonsense!" Russell concludes with How did this paper get through the peer-review and editorial review processes? What ...
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32 votes
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Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

Part 1, see Neos answer. Earth will lose its heat no matter what we do, and our extraction of geothermal energy is insignificant (Wikipedia quotes a BP figure of 11.4 GW electrical, 28 GW heating). ...
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  • 11.1k
27 votes
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Why don't scientists use fire entry suits to study volcanoes?

I'm a volcanologist and I have worked on erupting volcanoes. First of all, volcanologists almost never actually wear those suits. Heat is almost never the hazard that matters in the situations in ...
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  • 2,563
20 votes

Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

This question is relevant, Why is the inside of the Earth so hot? The short answer is the core is losing heat no matter what we do. You see, heat is transported from the core to the surface, but its ...
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  • 6,356
19 votes

Geothermal instead of fossil and nuclear?

By way of example, the Habanero geothermal pilot plant was investigated in Australia from 2003 to 2013. It as a 1 MW plant in the Cooper Basin, in the central region of Australia. The heat source rock,...
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  • 20.3k
18 votes

Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

Put a frying pan on a stove burner and make the pan hot. Measure its temperature every minute over half an hour or so to get an idea of how rapidly it naturally cools. Then start the experiment over ...
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17 votes
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Can the overuse of geothermal energy become an environmental concern?

No, this seems highly unlikely. According to online sources: Average human power consumption in 2008 was estimated at 15 TW. Total annual heat loss from the Earth due to the surface heat flux is ...
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  • 3,780
17 votes

Why is the temperature between the earth core and surface not distributed linearly?

The temperature does indeed increase with depth, something that is a problem in deep mines or deep drilling, but a benefit for geotermal heating. The heat originates mostly from radioactive decay, but ...
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  • 5,896
16 votes
Accepted

Does volcanic activity fluctuate?

This is probably an observational effect that is quite common in the Earth Sciences. In scientifically progressing societies there is a higher proportion of observations due to a number of effects: ...
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  • 3,876
15 votes

Do fossil fuels insulate the crust from the Earth's interior?

What neither the authors nor the response by John Russell takes into account is that all underground oil and gas is stored inside tiny pores of rocks. An oil reservoir is not a big underground cave, ...
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15 votes

Geothermal instead of fossil and nuclear?

We certainly couldn't replace all of the world's energy consumption with geothermal; there literally isn't enough energy coming out of the Earth. The mean thermal energy flow through continental ...
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13 votes

Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

Could all the drilling and digging to use the earth's natural heat as geothermal energy be affecting Earth's core, causing it to cool down? Yes. But by how much? Let's do some rough math. We'll just ...
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13 votes

Could the Earth's core lose its heat?

... causing it to cool down? This answer to the question 'Why has Earth's core not become solid?' over on Physics seems to claim the answer is no. The core is heated by radioactive decays of ...
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  • 239
13 votes
Accepted

Why is the inside of the Earth so hot?

This is a very good question. There a few main heat sources: Heat(and work) left over from the formation of the earth, work (potential energy) generated by dense iron sinking into the center of the ...
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  • 6,356
13 votes

Does volcanic activity fluctuate?

Whether volcanic activity fluctuates depends rather on the timescales you are looking at. Crisp (1984) compiles available data on igneous activity lasting for longer than 300 years and concludes that ...
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  • 2,826
13 votes

Does Earth's magnetic field arise from a fission reactor in its core?

The conventional explanation for the Earth's magnetic field is that some combination of differential rotation and/or convection occurs in the Earth's outer core, primarily in molten iron-nickel (+ ...
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11 votes

Why don't scientists use fire entry suits to study volcanoes?

I think the answer to "Why don't scientists use fire entry suits to study volcanoes?" is that this is a question of professional ethics rather than of technology. For some institution to support, ...
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  • 3,780
11 votes

How is heat transferred from the core through the mantle to the crust?

It is still a little known fact that radiation play an important role in the Earth's mantle. Experiments show that mantle-material becomes transparent to infrared radiation at increasing pressures (...
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  • 3,876
11 votes

How does geothermal heating work?

There are currently two ways to extract geothermal energy: one mainstream, one still at the experimental / demonstration level. Pollack et al (2010) estimate the global geoethermal heat loss at 44 TW (...
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  • 4,060
10 votes
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How does geothermal heating work?

To explain the earth science bit (how a heat exchanger works is beyond the scope of the site). The Earth is essentially cooling, losing heat from the interior by conduction to space. this heat flux ...
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10 votes

Is there a correlation between hot springs and earthquakes?

Yes, there is a correlation. In other words: places with hot springs are more likely to experience earthquakes than places without hot springs. The relationship is scale-dependent in time and space (...
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  • 10.8k
10 votes
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What is the current equilibrium surface temperature of Earth, i.e. without the sun?

Assuming a thermodynamic equilibrium between heat from below and heat escaping into outer space, and assuming an energy from below of 44 to 47 terawatts (the Earth's current internal heat budget), ...
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8 votes

Is it feasible to use depleted oil wells for geothermal production?

In most cases, probably not. Oil could be considered a metamorphic mineral, formed by "gentle" heating. That is gently on a geological scale - still enough to burn your hands! Geothermal systems ...
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  • 3,823
8 votes

Can the overuse of geothermal energy become an environmental concern?

This is a bit of a what-if kind of answer, with some rough estimates. Just considering the cooling aspect - let's pretend that Earth is solid for a momnet. The time-dependent heat equation tells us ...
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8 votes
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Is there a correlation between hot springs and earthquakes?

Hot springs usually exist in volcanic regions or in areas where there are extensive (normal) faults. The water circulates through the fault zones (basically damaged zones with high permeability) ...
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  • 2,361
8 votes
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Digging depth and heat

The heat equilibrium depth will vary for different locations due to: Differences in geothermal gradient at different locations (heat emitted by rock). It is generally accepted that the global ...
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  • 20.3k
8 votes
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At what depth does the underground begin to warm up?

Your question has an incorrect assumption built in. Near surface ground water temperatures are not generally colder, but rather reflect the average annual temperature. This will be colder than ...
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7 votes

Does volcanic activity fluctuate?

The previous answers contain important facts, but neglect recent discoveries. As tobias47n9e says, the increase in observed output over time is an observational effect. As kaberett explains, if you're ...
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  • 2,563
7 votes

Is pure "heat" harmful to the environment?

As with the answer to most things that involves consumption or absorption it's a question of degree, quantity and duration. Heat is energy that is being transferred. All life forms require a certain ...
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  • 20.3k
7 votes
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Did the Geothermal Power Plant contribute to Pahoa's Lava Fissures?

Original answer I think we can confidently enough answer "no". From the report "Eruptions of Hawaiian Volcanoes—Past, Present, and Future" (Tilling et al. 2010): Kilauea eruptions ...
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