Researchers say a layer of minerals in the mantle could hold up to three times the water present on Earth’s surface. Fragments of the blue-colored mineral called ringwoodite. Credit Northwestern University
According to a study just published in the journal Science suggests a hidden “ocean” in the Earth’s mantle, some 650 kilometers (400 miles) beneath North America.
The water resides inside a blue rock called “ringwoodite” existing in the Earth’s mantle, a layer of hot rock between Earth’s surface and its core. So the newly discovered “ocean” isn’t a giant reservoir of water, but the water is contained in the molecular structure of mantle’s minerals.
Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen, who was one of the scientists responsible for the discovery, explains:
“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.”
“The ringwoodite is like a sponge, soaking up water, there is something very special about the crystal structure of ringwoodite that allows it to attract hydrogen and trap water. This mineral can contain a lot of water under conditions of the deep mantle.”