Gold Facts: How Much Gold is in the Earth’s Core?
“Big History” Gold Volume Facts
I watched a fascinating episode of the History Channel’s “Big History” program recently called “Gold Fever”. They presented the following amazing gold facts and figures:
- There is enough gold at the core of the earth to cover the surface of the planet in 12’ to 13’ depth. Unfortunately, it’s 1,800 miles below our feet and at many thousands of degrees.
- They also indicate that all the gold ever mined would only stand at 80’ on the Washington Monument (Washington, D.C.). The monuments base is 55’ 1-1/2” (square). So, that’s 246,050 cubic feet or 9,113 cubic yards. So, how many ounces is that?
- All the gold in Fort Knox would stand less than 3’ on the same monument. So, that would be 9,227 cubic feet (342 cy).
The program indicates that all the gold mined and still being mined comes from meteorites that have hit the earth’s crust since it cooled. Once in the crust, processes through heat and water have deposited it in places you and I can find it.
Differing Gold Facts & Figures?
The programs statements about how much gold there is at the earth’s core differs from all the other sources I could find. Wikipedia, for instance, states “because the inner core is denser (12.8 ~ 13.1)g⁄cm³ than pure iron or nickel, even under heavy pressures, it is believed that the core also contains enough gold, platinum and other siderophile elements that if extracted and poured onto the Earth’s surface it would cover the entire Earth with a coating 0.45 m (1.5 feet) deep.”
An article in the September, 2006 issue of Discover Magazine quotes Australian geologist Bernard Wood as identifying that
“there’s enough gold in Earth’s core to coat its surface in 1.5 feet of the stuff.”
“A Sea of Molten Rocks”
Professor Wood bases his figures on an extensive survey of the makeup of the earth’s core, in which he concludes that
“Earth was probably covered in a sea of molten rock, hundreds of kilometers deep, early in its history. [The] “magma ocean” reacted with metals during the planet’s development, extracting many of the most important and interesting elements, including gold, and eventually depositing them in the Earth’s own iron-rich core.”