Scientists: Earth Has A Secret Reservoir of Water
'Ringwoodite' points to water deep within Earth
Late Melbourne scientist Ted Ringwood's theories appear to have been validated with the discovery of a sample of Ringwoodite from deep beneath the Earth's surface.
One hundred and fifty years ago, in Journey to the Centre of the Earth, French science-fiction forerunner Jules Verne pictured a vast sea that lay deep under our planet's surface.
Today, that strange and haunting image has found an unexpected echo in a scientific paper.
That particular zone in the Earth, the transition zone, might have as much water as all the world's oceans put together.
Graham Pearson, University of Alberta
Writing in the journal Nature, scientists said they had found an elusive mineral pointing to the existence of a vast reservoir deep in Earth's mantle, 400 to 600 kilometres beneath our feet.
The brown diamond that yielded the ringwoodite sample. Photo: Richard Siemens/University of Alberta It may hold as much water as all the planet's oceans combined, they believe. The evidence comes from a water-loving mineral called ringwoodite that came from the so-called transition zone sandwiched between the upper and lower layers of Earth's mantle, they said. Analysis shows a whopping 1.5 per cent of the rock comprises molecules of water.
The find backs once-contested theories that the transition zone, or at least significant parts of it, is water-rich, the investigators said. "This sample really provides extremely strong confirmation that there are local wet spots deep in the Earth in this area," said Graham Pearson of Canada's University of Alberta, who led the research. "That particular zone in the Earth, the transition zone, might have as much water as all the world's oceans put together."
Ringwoodite is named after Australian geologist Ted Ringwood, who theorised that a special mineral was bound to be created in the transition zone because of the ultra-high pressures and temperatures there. A piece of this mineral has been a long-sought goal. It would resolve a long-running debate about whether the poorly-understood transition zone is bone-dry or water-rich. But until now, ringwoodite has only ever been found in meteorites. Geologists had simply been unable to delve deep enough to find any sample on Earth.Good fortune, though, changed all this.
In 2008, amateur gem-hunters digging in shallow river gravel in the Juina area of Mato Grasso, Brazil, came across a tiny, grubby stone called a brown diamond. Measuring just three millimetres across and commercially worthless, the stone was acquired by the scientists when they were on a quest for other minerals. But the accidental acquisition turned out to be a bonanza. In its interior, they found a microscopic trace of ringwoodite – the very first terrestrial evidence of the ultra-rare rock. snip
"In some ways it is an ocean in Earth's interior, as visualised by Jules Verne ... although not in the form of liquid water," Keppler said in a commentary also published by Nature. The implications of the discovery are profound, Pearson suggested. If water exists in huge volumes beneath Earth's crust, it is bound to have a big impact on the mechanics of volcanoes and the movement of tectonic plates."One of the reasons the Earth is such a dynamic planet is the presence of some water in its interior," Pearson said. "Water changes everything about the way a planet works."
Incredible find. There is still so much we have to yet learn about Earth. I have no doubt there is water at the center. In the early stages of Earth's development bombardments by meteors and comets formed the oceans we see around us. It is very likely to me that these relentless bombardments sent water deep into the Earth. Could it be a world within a world?
“Is the Master out of his mind?' she asked me.
'And he's taking you with him?'
I nodded again.
'Where?' she asked.
I pointed towards the centre of the earth.
'Into the cellar?' exclaimed the old servant.
'No,' I said, 'farther down than that.”
― Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Journey To The Centre of The Earth-All Editions
Also see: Where Did Earth's Water Originate