Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Temperature vs. Depth
Name: Mark
Status: Other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: November 28, 2002


Question:
How hot is the earth at a depth of 1 mile? I know there is a constant calculable formula for temperature as you go deeper and deeper. Therefore the temp in a cave or well or archeological dig should be an exact answer, and I would like to know what that is.



Replies:
The rate of change of temperature with depth is referred to as the geothermal gradient. The geothermal gradient varies depending on location, so there is no uniform answer. On average, the geothermal gradient is approximately 75 degrees F per mile. In volcanically active areas, the gradient can be as high as 150 degrees F per mile. In ocean trenches, the gradient may be as low as 15 degrees F per mile. Decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements may also cause localized increases in temperature in some locations.

Andrew Johnson



Click here to return to the Environmental and Earth Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory