What is the source of the Earth’s internal heat?



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    The Earth’s internal heat is due primarily to the gravitational compression of material at the Earth’s core, resulting in molten mass which circulates and drives tectonic plate movement. To a much lesser extent, the decay of radioactive isotopes also contributes.

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    When the planet formed, a ring of matter “accreted,” that is, gravity pulled a great deal of matter in space into a rotating mass that eventually got closer and closer together and formed a hot, tightly-knit sphere. As the outer layers of this hot little sphere cooled, a planet formed, but the core remained hot as radioactive continued to decay, letting off a great deal of heat.

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      For clarification, the matter from which the earth formed was more that likely part of the same enormous cloud of dust and gas from which the sun formed.

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