Study: Water Exists Far Deeper In Earth Than Scientists Previously Believed

First Posted: Nov 23, 2016 04:10 AM EST

The scientists from Florida State University discovered that water exists far deeper in Earth than they previously thought. They found a mineral deep below the Earth's surface that may reveal how much water is piled up in the planet.

The findings of the discovery were printed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. It was led by Mainak Mookherjee, the FSU Assistant Professor of Geology and Andreas Hermann from the University of Edinburgh and other colleagues. The team of researchers found that in the deep Earth about 400 to 600 kilometers into mantle, a water is stored and transported through a high-pressure polymorph of the mineral called brucite, according to Science Daily.

Brucite is a greenish or grayish mineral consists of magnesium hydroxide. It is formed during serpentinization of dunites. The team thought before that brucite was not thermodynamically stable that deep in Earth.

Mookherjee said that they did not think water could be stored by hydrous minerals like brucite at these depths. Since they know it now, they said that they need to gauge how much water could be effectively stored inside it. With the high-pressure phase of brucite, the water could be transported to far deeper areas without decomposition.

Herman said that they had to do quantum-mechanical calculations on thousands of potential structures until they found that one they now reported. He further said that it is incredible that such a well-studied mineral as brucite has something so surprising to offer.

Meanwhile, Mookherjee explained that deep Earth water is equally significant to water on the surface that could also be useful for the activity of the planet. He further explained that his goal is to understand how much water is stored in the deep Earth. He added that if the planet becomes dry on the inside, the planet dies due to geodynamic activity within the planet ceases.

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