Evidence Of Ocean Below Earth's Surface; It Sustains Life On Earth?

First Posted: Nov 29, 2016 03:56 AM EST

Two new studies reveal that not only 70 percent of water covers the Earth's surface but there is also an ocean of waters that lies under the Earth's surface. The researchers found that these waters are significant for generating soil and sustaining life on the planet.

Dr. Mainak Mookherjee, the lead author of the first study, said that water in the Earth's interior is crucial since it helps in mantle convection, which is a process by which solid rocks move from hotter to colder regions over geological time scales. She further said that if there were no water in the Earth's interior, mantle convection would be inefficient and would eventually cease.

In the first study, the scientists from the University of Edinburgh and Florida State University discovered that water exists deep below in the Earth's surface and stored in a brucite. This is a mineral form of magnesium hydroxide and thermally decomposes to release water to aluminum hydroxide and mixtures of huntite and hydromagnesite.

The team theorizes that the amount of water could account for as much as 1.5 percent of the weight of the planet. This is about the same amount of water as all the world's oceans put together, according to Mail Online.

In the second study, the researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois discovered a diamond vented out 90 million years ago, by a volcano near the Sao Luiz river in Juina, Brazil. The team examined it through a microscope and saw the presence of hydroxyl ions, which normally come from water. The diamond had the imperfection that suggests that it formed in the lower mantle of Earth.

Steve Jacobsen, the lead author of the second study, said that based on the composition of the trapped mineral, they speculate that the depth was around 1,000 kilometers. He further said that this is the deepest evidence for water recycling on the planet.

Jacobsen added that the big take-home message is that the water cycle on Earth is bigger than they thought, extending into the deep mantle. Scientists hope that these will give insights on how oceans and atmosphere formed, according to New Scientist.

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