The Core

Due to the current (March 2003) movie with this title, a "teachable moment" has developed with respect to information on the structure and temperature of the Earth and its core. At the request of Lynn Hurst of the Lousiville movie theater a display of earth-science posters related to the Earth structure and USGS handouts on how to obtain more information both from libraries, the web, and the Denver Federal Center USGS Map Sales store was set up on March 29, 2003.  

Click here for a few pictures of the display.

The site has information on the core here:

If your up for a challenge, here's an assignment from Youngstown State University Professor Ray Beiersdorfer.

The Core Movie Extra Credit

In order to earn up to 5 points extra credit you must:

1) Read chapter 17 in your textbook

2) Watch The Core at a theater near you. Note the questions below do include some "spoilers" in regards to the suspense of the movie.

3) Visit

4) Write a 5-page type-written paper .  The paper must include:

1) A description of the earthıs layers, including a) oceanic crust; b) continental crust; c) the mantle; d) outer core and e) inner core. The description must include the thickness, composition, density and state (solid or liquid) of each layer, plus any other applicable interesting information.

2) A description of the main scientific premise of "The Core" movie. Include both the geological, meteorological and biological aspects the antecedent events that lead the hero to deduce this premise.

3) An evaluation of the geology and geophysics presented in the movie. This evaluation must include assessment of the scientific accuracy of the following scenes (each as its own paragraph) a) the scene where they enter the earth's crust at the Marianas Trench with emphasis on whether or not this is a place where earthquakes occur; b) what happens when they pass through the crust mantle boundary?; c) do they pass through the lithosphere/asthenospere boundary?; d) when the terranauts enter a giant quartz geode in the earth's mantle; e) the intrusion of magma into the geode; f) the presence of diamonds at the core mantle boundary (look at the figure at http// and plot the pressure and temperature you'd expect at the core/mantle boundary to see if diamond would be the expected stable carbon phase); g) the mention of plate boundaries near Hawaii; and h) can you get to the surface by riding a magmatic eruption all the way from the core to the surface?.

4) If you are really good you can jot down some of the numbers they throw around in the movie to see how accurate they are and calculate how fast they travel inside the Earth. This is not required.

5) Be sure to reference any materials (including your textbook and websites you use to write this paper)


Ray Beiersdorfer <ray at>
Geology Department
Youngstown State University
One University Plaza
Youngstown, Ohio, 44555