Scientists have found what they say appears to be a reservoir of water three times the volume of all of the Earth’s oceans.
The discovery might provide an answer as to where the water on the Earth came from in the first place. There is a theory that it might have come from comets, but, if this water is really there, it supports another theory that it just sort of seeped out. Scientists have theorized the water would be there for decades, but this is the first time someone has found it.
“It’s good evidence the Earth’s water came from within,” says Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in a New Scientist article. Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt are co-authors of the research.
The water they found is 400 miles beneath The United States in the mantle of the Earth, the hot rock between the earth’s surface and its core, locked in a blue rock called ringwoodite.
The scientists found the water by studying the seismic waves generated by earthquakes. The waves move through the earth, and where they hit water they slow down. At the depth where the layer was detected, the pressure is enough to squeeze some of the water out of the ringwoodite and make it soggy enough for it to be detected.
“It’s rock with water along the boundaries between the grains, almost as if they’re sweating,” says Jacobsen.
Jacobsen said it’s a good thing all that water is subterranean.
“We should be grateful for this deep reservoir,” says Jacobsen. “If it wasn’t there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountain tops would be the only land poking out.”
[Source: New Scientist]
Image: Photo of Ringwoodite by Steven Jacobsen