# [Physics] Limit on geothermal energy that could be extracted before the earth’s magnetic field collapsed

energyheatrenewable energy

This is more of a theoretical thought-experiment question.

Basically, how much geothermal energy can we extract before the loss of the magnetic field makes it a terribly bad idea?

Will the geothermal energy inside the earth now, which is lost through "natural processes", last until the end of the Sun (say, another 5billion years?) And if so, how much excess is leftover?

a) do we know how much thermal energy there is? Call this: A

b) do we know at what point the core would stop producing a magnetic field? (ie: is it when the iron in the core is no longer molten?) Call this: B

c) do we know the rate that heat is radiated out naturally? Call the annual rate: C

So I guess: A-B – (5.0 * 10^9 * C) is the amount of heat for "safe" geothermal extraction?

also: Considering such extreme timescales — are there any other factors adding heat into the Earth? Maybe tidal interactions with Sun/Moon/etc add anything over billions of years?

Thanks!

The temperature T at depth z at time t is given by: $$T(z,t) = \int_{-\infty}^{t}\frac{z\;\exp(-z^2/4\alpha(t-\tau))\;f(\tau)\;d\tau}{\sqrt{4\pi\alpha(t-\tau)^3}}$$ where $f(\tau)$ is the surface temperature and $\alpha$ is the thermal diffusivity. From this, we see that the temperature change at the surface is exponentially damped at a depth $z$ by $\sqrt{t}$.
From the borehole paper above, we have that it takes about 80,000 years to change the temperature of 12km of rock through conduction. The distance to the earth's center is around 6400 km, maybe 6000 km to the magnetic core. So the earliest time we can expect to see a (just barely measurable) change to the earth's magnetic core is around $$80,000\;\textrm{years}\;\times \frac{6000^2}{12^2} = 20\; \textrm{billion years}.$$