A recent discovery involves a water reservoir that is three times the volume of all of Earth’s oceans. This finding is significant because researchers believe it will help explain where the seas in the Earth come from.
The reservoir was found hidden inside a blue rock known as ringwoodite. It is roughly 700 kilometers underground in the mantle, which is the layer of hot rock between the surface of the Earth and the core of the Earth.
The discovery has led geologists to ponder the idea that the oceans gradually oozed from the interior of the Earth many years ago.
“It’s good evidence the Earth’s water came from within,” says Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
A team at Northwestern University in Illinois used 2,000 seismometers to study seismic waves generated by over five hundred earthquakes. These waves are significant because they move throughout the interior of Earth and can be observed at the surface.
The speed of the waves was measured at different depths. This allowed the team to distinguish which rock types the seismic waves were passing through. The water reservoir was revealed when the waves slowed down.
The team worked out what would happen through lab experimentation if the waves in water-containing ringwoodite were present. The lab experimentation involved exposing many samples of ringwoodite to massive pressures and temperatures matching those at 700 kilometers underground in the mantle. Sure enough, the team did find signs of wet ringwoodite 700 kilometers down in the mantle.
This finding is supported by another recent study that revealed the first strong evidence that there were high amounts of water in the transition zone. Additionally, the team at Northwestern University have found another ringwoodite crystal that also contains water. So far, the team has evidence that ringwoodite exists underneath the United States. The team is looking to discover if ringwoodite can be found at other spots on Earth.
The team claims that we should be happy with the finding of this water reservoir and the location of it. This is because if it was located on the surface of the Earth, significantly more land on Earth would be covered with water.