Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Geophysics Problem of the Day: Energy of Compression to High Pressure

This Geophysics Problem of the day is a sample of my lecture notes describing a back-of-the-envelope type calculation of energy (mechanical work) as an Earth-relevant material is compressed to deep Earth-like pressures. In this calculation, I only look at the P-V contribution to energy, and ignore the thermal contribution.

The take-home message is that Earth-like pressures are large, and the mechanical work that is imparted on a material as it convects through a range of Earth interior pressures is enough to change the material structure and bonding.

We do these experiments in the diamond anvil cell, but generally deal with tiny amounts of samples. Perhaps a followup question is to calculate the total P-V work performed on a diamond anvil cell sample as we compress to ~100 GPa. Should we worry about explosions in the lab?

I resisted adding a second page of commentary, but there are a lot of points to make in the interstices. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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