New Evidence for an Epic Underground "Ocean" Reservoir

New Evidence for an Epic Underground "Ocean" Reservoir

An ocean's worth of water may be trapped deep beneath the Earth's surface.

Researchers have uncovered evidence for a deep water reservoir in the Earth's mantle, some 410 to 660 kilometers beneath the surface. The water is trapped in a mineral called ringwoodite - named after earth scientist Ted Ringwood - which exists at the high temperatures and pressures experienced deep in the Earth.

Just how much water could there be? Three times the amount of water in all the world's surface oceans. If true, this could solve the mystery about how the Earth became a wet planet. Current theories suggest that a significant amount of water arrived in the form of comets - ice balls that crashed into our planet - but the presence of such an enormous subterranean reservoir wouldn't need any extraterrestrial explanation.

"Geological processes on the Earth's surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight," geophysicist Dr. Steven Jacobsen, an associate professor at Northwestern University, said in a written statement. "I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades."

The researchers found this evidence through seismic readings of the Earth's mantle and the behavior of seismic waves within the ringwoodite. A paper describing the research was published in the journal Science on June 13, 2014.

Source: The Huffington Post

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Yay, a new resource to exploit. Maybe the right people can find a way to swap out our ocean for new ocean every few thousand years, in much the same way farmers move cattle to new grounds so old fields have time to replenish. This would give microbes - and jellyfish - time to digest all the crap we've spewed into our oceans and give plankton some fresh waters with which to restabilize our atmosphere before we, ya know, kill em all, thus destroying our primary source of O2. But that's just a thought. In all likelihood BP or others of their ilk will find a hidden reservoir of natural gas hidden right over the buried ocean and ruin the water for everybody.

underground ocean?
i swear i have seen a film like that ha.

Interesting hypothesis, can fracking compromise the quality of this new reservoir??

Lazlo Long:
Interesting hypothesis, can fracking compromise the quality of this new reservoir??

I doubt it... this is 400+ km down. The deepest we've ever dug is an order of magnitude less than that, maybe 12km.

Article is misleading unfortunately. It's not really a deep subterranean ocean, but rather a layer of wet rock. It's a blue rock called ringwoodite, which according to wikipedia can contain up to 2.6% H2O. So the water is there and it has some interesting implications, but it's not as cool as it sounds.

Lazlo Long:
Interesting hypothesis, can fracking compromise the quality of this new reservoir??

You utterly misunderstand both the water, geology and how fracking works. The water itself is as Rhykker said, Very very deep inside of the earth. The n there's the issue of you not knowing what the mantle is which is super heated or molten rock which we only see on the surface as lava. I think we'd have more pressing issues if something could compromise the water there...

Well that's a shit load of water. Unfortunately this is just going to encourage the young earth creationists who think that the water from the biblical flood just 'went away' once beardy cloud man was done slaughtering the masses.

Rhykker:

Lazlo Long:
Interesting hypothesis, can fracking compromise the quality of this new reservoir??

I doubt it... this is 400+ km down. The deepest we've ever dug is an order of magnitude less than that, maybe 12km.

Not to mention that place is probably wall-to-wall balrogs. Too deep... too deep.

As an Astronomy person, this if anything adds to our problem of where our water comes from. We hoped it came from comets because we are not far enough away from the sun for water to be here in large quantities when the solar system formed. This just adds more questions than answers. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I'm sure somebody is pulling their hair out now trying to solve this. :P

Stranger things have happened. As long as no Great Old Ones were involved or B-rated monsters or even Silurians, I'm fine with this.

Panzer Camper:
As an Astronomy person, this if anything adds to our problem of where our water comes from. We hoped it came from comets because we are not far enough away from the sun for water to be here in large quantities when the solar system formed. This just adds more questions than answers. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I'm sure somebody is pulling their hair out now trying to solve this. :P

Well, it's generally good to form new questions, but not when it's because we're having to cross out previous knowledge.

Maybe we have some fundamental details about how the Earth formed wrong. Maybe it formed far away from Sol and only settled into a closer rotation later. Maybe Earth is actually an extrasolar planet that Sol adopted. Or maybe we're just wrong about how much water was in the inner solar system early on.

Hmmm, could this be more evidence in support of the Hollow Earth theory? This could be the inner Earth's denizens water supply.

Panzer Camper:
As an Astronomy person, this if anything adds to our problem of where our water comes from. We hoped it came from comets because we are not far enough away from the sun for water to be here in large quantities when the solar system formed. This just adds more questions than answers. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I'm sure somebody is pulling their hair out now trying to solve this. :P

Actually it helps with the water problem as it gives a mechanism for the inner planets to hold onto water despite being inside of the snow line. Instead of requiring the water to form ice grains to persist it could remain by being trapped in rocks, either dissolved in the minerals' crystal lattice or having reacted to form new minerals. If the water remains in the rocks during planetary formation and then is released over millions of years through volcanic eruption then it could explain the presence of liquid water on Earth without requiring quite so many comets.

There is an interesting series of novels by Stephen Baxter called Flood (2008) and Ark (2009) which deal with the aftermath of massive subterranean aquifers rupturing and flooding the earth. It's been a while since I read them, but they were fairly interesting mix of hard science fiction and the apocalypse.

Comocat:
There is an interesting series of novels by Stephen Baxter called Flood (2008) and Ark (2009) which deal with the aftermath of massive subterranean aquifers rupturing and flooding the earth.

These aren't aquifers; the water is all locked up inside the rocks in crystal form. There's not any mechanism I'm aware of that could a) turn it all into liquid water and b) cause it to somehow get up through like 400 miles of rock to the surface.
The book sounds like it could still be fun though.

The article also forgot to mention that they've only been able to test the one sample of ringwoodite, they have no idea whatsoever whether that's representative or not. It would fit certain predictions if there did turn out to be a whole bunch of water under the surface somewhere, but it's still all mostly hypothetical.

CriticalMiss:
Well that's a shit load of water. Unfortunately this is just going to encourage the young earth creationists who think that the water from the biblical flood just 'went away' once beardy cloud man was done slaughtering the masses.

Are you my long-lost twin? Because that was exactly my reaction to reading the article. That, and a long, painful groan...

Panzer Camper:
As an Astronomy person, this if anything adds to our problem of where our water comes from. We hoped it came from comets because we are not far enough away from the sun for water to be here in large quantities when the solar system formed. This just adds more questions than answers. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I'm sure somebody is pulling their hair out now trying to solve this. :P

Actually, I have read a hypothesis a few years ago that the planet Earth might have originally formed further away from the Sun in a more water-rich ring, but then the same impact that created the Moon pushed it into an orbit closer to the Sun. I think this one could explain how we could have water so deep in the crust; it has always been there since the planet's formation.

Of course, as I said, this was only a hypothesis I have heard (not even a theory), so take it with a pinch of salt.

CriticalMiss:
Well that's a shit load of water. Unfortunately this is just going to encourage the young earth creationists who think that the water from the biblical flood just 'went away' once beardy cloud man was done slaughtering the masses.

It doesn't help that it supposedly disappeared into the depths of the ocean through cracks.

Of course, I'm fond of videos dealing with apologetics, and the narrative doesn't match the description.

....Yet. Because it will.

Not to mention that place is probably wall-to-wall balrogs. Too deep... too deep.

Bah. You're free to believe in the myths of a "Middle Earth," but we all know the truth: the lizard people exterminated all those balrogs and hobbiteses centuries ago.

Comocat:
There is an interesting series of novels by Stephen Baxter called Flood (2008) and Ark (2009) which deal with the aftermath of massive subterranean aquifers rupturing and flooding the earth. It's been a while since I read them, but they were fairly interesting mix of hard science fiction and the apocalypse.

It doesn't sound very hard.

someonehairy-ish:

These aren't aquifers; the water is all locked up inside the rocks in crystal form. There's not any mechanism I'm aware of that could a) turn it all into liquid water and b) cause it to somehow get up through like 400 miles of rock to the surface.
The book sounds like it could still be fun though.

The article also forgot to mention that they've only been able to test the one sample of ringwoodite, they have no idea whatsoever whether that's representative or not. It would fit certain predictions if there did turn out to be a whole bunch of water under the surface somewhere, but it's still all mostly hypothetical.

For a start it isn't actually water but OH- ions. They are not in a crystal but form a complex with the Fe atoms in the structure of ringwoodite.

I kept thinking, "wait, how can waterlogged wood survive in the Earth's mantle?" Then I realized it isn't actually wood, it's just named after a guy with "wood" in his name.

Care to guess how long it will take creationists to seize this as evidence for where the water for Noah's flood came from?

Remus:
Yay, a new resource to exploit.

wont happen. 410 KM deep is unreachable. we cant drill that deep.
http://www.omgfacts.com/Science/Work-on-the-deepest-hole-ever-drilled-ha/55358
deepest hole we ever drilled was 12.262 meters. thats not even 1/20th of the distance needed. and the work had to be stopped because it became too hot even for diamond tipped drills. were not reaching this water, not with technology we got.

Lazlo Long:
Interesting hypothesis, can fracking compromise the quality of this new reservoir??

No, fracking polutes surface waters and shallow reserves, which means it pollutes that water thats extracted to go to your sink that you drink. the drinkable water reserves very rarely breach bellow 1 KM.

Rhykker:
I doubt it... this is 400+ km down. The deepest we've ever dug is an order of magnitude less than that, maybe 12km.

you got the distance about right as i pointed above. very eerie :P

CriticalMiss:
Well that's a shit load of water. Unfortunately this is just going to encourage the young earth creationists who think that the water from the biblical flood just 'went away' once beardy cloud man was done slaughtering the masses.

That was my thought too. When I was a kid, I first learned of plate tectonics through my religious school thing (it was called Awana, if you know anything about that). They were implying that the earth had basically opened up on those seams, probably swallowing a lot of water at the time, which would explain where the flood waters went.

You just know that if one day we ever get down there and find a race lizard people or dinosaurs Cracked.com will write an article along the lines of "Ten ways Jules Verne predicated the future". I look forward to reading it.

 

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