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Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth’s magnetic field? Heat. Geologists have used temperature measurements from more than 20,000 boreholes around the world to estimate that some 44 terawatts (44 trillion watts) of heat continually flow from Earth’s interior into space. Radioactive decay of uranium, thorium, and potassium in Earth’s crust and mantle is a principal source of this heat.