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Beautiful bright blue rocks - may reside deep inside the Earth

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/13/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ringwoodite minerals may give clue to what lies deep within our planet

Few colors in the spectrum are more wondrous then deep, cobalt blue - immediately soothing and contemplative, they evoke the blue of both the sky and the sea. Now, bright blue rocks that exist deep within the Earth may provide the first direct evidence that there may be as much water trapped in those rocks as in all of the oceans.

A diamond from a 100-million-year-old kimberlite found in Juina, Brazil, have been studied by Professor Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta, Canada, as part of a wider project.

A diamond from a 100-million-year-old kimberlite found in Juina, Brazil, have been studied by Professor Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta, Canada, as part of a wider project.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/13/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Ringwoodite, water, Earth, cobalt blue


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - One such diamond, from central-west Brazil, contains minerals that formed as deep as 372 miles down and have significant amounts of water trapped within them. A new study suggests water may be stored deep in the interiors of many rocky planets.

Brought forth from eruptions of deep volcanic rocks called kimberlites, these diamonds provide an intriguing window into the deep Earth.

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A diamond from a 100-million-year-old kimberlite found in Juina, Brazil, have been studied by Professor Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta, Canada, as part of a wider project.

They noticed that it contained a mineral, ringwoodite, which is only thought to form between 254 and 410 miles beneath the Earth's surface, showing just how deep some diamonds originate.

While ringwoodite has previously been found in meteorites, this is the first time a terrestrial ringwoodite has been seen. But more extraordinarily, the researchers found that the mineral contains about one percent water.

While this amount seems small, as ringwoodite makes up almost all of this immense portion of the inner Earth, this leads to a huge amount of deep water.

"Finding water in such large concentrations is a hugely significant development in our understanding of the ultimate origin of water now present at Earth's surface," Dr. Sally Gibson from the University of Cambridge, not involved in the study, said.

The observation is the first physical evidence that water can be stored in the deep interiors of planets and solves a 25-year-old controversy about whether the deep Earth is dry, wet, or wet in patches.

"The discovery highlights the unique value of natural diamonds in trapping and preserving fragments of the deep Earth," Professor Pearson told reporters.

"It's incredible to think that, as you hold this sample in your hand, the residual pressure at the interface between the diamond and the inclusion is 20,000 atmospheres."

In describing his diamond sample, he said: "It looks like it's been to hell and back, which it has."

Professor Joseph Smyth of the University of Colorado has weighed in and expressed his astonishment over the new find.

"I think it's stunning! It implies that the interior may store several times the amount of water in the oceans. It tells us that hydrogen is an essential ingredient in the Earth and not added late from comets.

"This discovery implies that hydrogen may control the interior processes of the Earth just as it controls the surface processes, and that water planets, like Earth, may be common in our galaxy."

With the ringwoodite's water-bearing capabilities, its abundance at depth, and its beautiful hue, the term "blue planet" seems even more appropriate for Earth.

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