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