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Scientists stunned as they discover new ocean they never knew Earth had | World | News

It sounds like a classic from Jules Verne but scientists truly believe a giant undiscovered ocean might lie more than 400 miles beneath the surface of the Earth.

If he was alive today, the 19th century French science fiction writer, who famously penned A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, might claim he predicted the future.

That’s at least if the claims of boffins at Northwestern University, in illionois, USA, are to be believed.

In a paper with the not-so-snappy title of “Dehydration melting at the top of the lower mantle”, a group of experts have calculated a “deep H2O reservoir” may exist between 250 and 410 miles underground.

The research outlined how a mineral called ringwoodite beneath the Earth’s crust could be holding huge reserves of water and that the rivers and oceans on our planet today may have originally come from within.

Originally published in 2014, the paper has gone viral recently on social media.

Commenting on the discovery at the time, geophysicist Steve Jacobsen, from Northwestern University, told the journal Science: “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.

“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 Earth’s structure is made from four key parts, the crust on the surface where we all live, the mostly solid mantle, which makes up more than 80 percent of the planet, and the molten outer core and inner molten core.

It’s in an area known as the transition zone of the mantle where scientists believe conditions could be right for water to be stored in crystalline rocks that form much of this huge layer of the interior of the planet.

According to National Geographic, “perhaps the most important aspect of the mantle’s transition zone is its abundance of water. Crystals in the transition zone hold as much water as all the oceans on Earth’s surface”.

The respected publication adds: “Near the bottom of the transition zone, increasing temperature and pressure transform ringwoodite and wadsleyite.

“Their crystal structures are broken and hydroxide escapes as ‘melt’. Melt particles flow upwards, toward minerals that can hold water. This allows the transition zone to maintain a consistent reservoir of water.”


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