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Underground 'ocean' 400 miles beneath Earth's surface may unlock mysteries of planet's creation

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/15/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists have pondered theory for decades; estimated to have three times the amount of water on surface

It's a fantastic theory worthy of science fiction author Jules Verne. An underground ocean, about 400 miles beneath the Earth's surface that contains three times the amount of water fond on the Earth's surface. Seeing as the world's oceans already cover three-quarters of the surface already, this is a most substantial amount of water. Scientists are now taking this theory very seriously with recent evidence.

An underground ocean is one of the theories now being debated in regards to the Earth's creation.

An underground ocean is one of the theories now being debated in regards to the Earth's creation.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
6/15/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Ocean, underground, theory, creation


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The theory has the potential to change our understanding of how the planet was formed. Contained in a mineral called ringwoodite, geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University has co-authored a groundbreaking new study. The discovery, he says, suggests the Earth's water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity. This is in contrast to the prevailing theory that icy comets hitting the planet in ancient times.

"Geological processes on the Earth's surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight," Jacobsen said.

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"I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades."

Jacobsen and his fellow scientists are the first to provide direct evidence that there may be water in an area of the Earth's mantle known as the transition zone. They based their findings on a study of a vast underground region extending across most of the interior of the United States.

The chemical known as ringwoodite acts like a sponge due to a crystal structure that makes it attract hydrogen and trap water.

If just one percent of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen's study used data from the USArray, as well as a network of seismometers across the U.S. that measure the vibrations of earthquakes. The investigation also combined Jacobsen's lab experiments on rocks simulating the high pressures found more than 600 kilometers underground.

Evidence proved that melting and movement of rock in the transition zone, hundreds of kilometers down, between the upper and lower mantles led to a process where water could become fused and trapped in the rock.

What's especially remarkable is that most melting in the mantle was previously thought to occur at a much shallower distance, about 80 kilometers below the Earth's surface.

Jacobsen says that the hidden water might also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years. "If [the stored water] wasn't there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out," he said.

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