Water-rich gem points to vast ‘oceans’ beneath the Earth

Water-rich gem points to vast ‘oceans’ beneath the Earth.

A fortuitous sample from the Transition Zone in the Mantle has demonstrated the long suspected presence of Ringwoodite and its water-rich properties, confirming the idea of buried oceans deep within the Earth. Crustal slabs are believed to carry water into the mantle as they subduct. Such water returns to the crust as water-enabled melts like the granite ‘balloons’ (batholiths) which float up through ‘solid’ rock and lift up the terrain. This new evidence confirms that there’s water down there already, possibly several oceans worth.

The “Nature” paper is: Hydrous mantle transition zone indicated by ringwoodite included within diamond

The SF implications of all that water have not remained unexplored – Stephen Baxter flooded the Earth with mantle water in his tale “Flood” (one-word titles are a favourite of Baxter’s). Of course, Flood-believers posit that at least some of the waters of the Noachic Flood came from the mantle and then returned, but – unlike SF-writers – they’re obliged to explain the mechanism aside from a wave of God’s magic-wand.

2 Replies to “Water-rich gem points to vast ‘oceans’ beneath the Earth”

  1. Seems like a very large leap from a very small sample, doesn’t it? Couldn’t there be a small and local pocket? I see the word ‘vast’ everywhere and wonder how such a leap is made.

  2. Quite right, Michael. But this “news of discovery” has left out the years of conjecture and theorising about the mantle and its water content. The properties of Ringwoodite have been conjectured for years, so the fact the first direct sample has water in it makes the theoretical case for mantle water stronger. Really, it’s not a surprise, but a confirmation.

    This also dovetails neatly with the case for Moon water, deep inside its rocks. Stephen Baxter wrote a rather beautiful sequence about using the Moon water for terraforming in his novel: “Manifold: Space”, which discusses the challenges faced by people living on a terraformed Moon, who have become short of the metal deposits concentrated by terrestrial geology.

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