Is There A Subterranean Ocean?
In his compulsively readable 2008 science fiction novel Flood, Stephen Baxter writes about an incredible series of events. Due to irreversible climate change, the various nations of the world experience a series of catastrophic floods. But as the novels proceed, it gets worse. The flooding overwhelms entire continents as hidden sources of water pour out their contents.
Although I was captivated by the novel, I was finding it difficult to properly suspend my disbelief in the main premise of the story. Now, however, I'm beginning to wonder if it might be possible.
[The] chemical makeup of a tiny, extremely rare gemstone has made researchers think there's a massive water reservoir hundreds of miles under the earth.
The gemstone in question is called ringwoodite, which is created when olivine, a material that is extremely common in the mantle, is highly pressurized; when it’s exposed to less pressurized environments, it reverts into olivine. It has previously been seen in meteorites and created in a laboratory, but until now it had never been found in a sample of the earth’s mantle.
Diamond expert Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta came across a seemingly worthless, three-millimeter piece of brown diamond that had been found in Mato Grosso, Brazil, while he was researching another type of mineral. Within that diamond, he and his team found ringwoodite—and they found that roughly 1.5 percent of the ringwoodite’s weight was made up of trapped water.
(Are there subterranean oceans?)
The ultimate origin of water in the Earth’s hydrosphere is in the deep Earth—the mantle. Theory and experiments have shown that although the water storage capacity of olivine-dominated shallow mantle is limited, the Earth’s transition zone, at depths between 410 and 660 kilometres, could be a major repository for water, owing to the ability of the higher-pressure polymorphs of olivine—wadsleyite and ringwoodite—to host enough water to comprise up to around 2.5 per cent of their weight.
A hydrous transition zone may have a key role in terrestrial magmatism and plate tectonics yet despite experimental demonstration of the water-bearing capacity of these phases, geophysical probes such as electrical conductivity have provided conflicting results and the issue of whether the transition zone contains abundant water remains highly controversial.
Here we report X-ray diffraction, Raman and infrared spectroscopic data that provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence for the terrestrial occurrence of any higher-pressure polymorph of olivine: we find ringwoodite included in a diamond from Juína, Brazil.
The water-rich nature of this inclusion, indicated by infrared absorption, along with the preservation of the ringwoodite, is direct evidence that, at least locally, the transition zone is hydrous, to about 1 weight per cent. The finding also indicates that some kimberlites must have their primary sources in this deep mantle region.
Fans of Jules Verne of course recall his 1864 blockbuster Journey to the Center of the Earth (aka Voyage au centre de la Terre). Read the relevant quote about Jules Verne's subterranean ocean from Journey to the Center of the Earth.
See Hydrous mantle transition zone indicated by ringwoodite included within diamond (Nature) via There's an ocean deep inside the Earth.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/16/2014)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Is There A Subterranean Ocean?
'A vast, limitless expanse of water, the end of a lake if not of an ocean, spread before us, until it was lost in the distance.'- Jules Verne, 1864.
The Robotic Shopping Cart Of The Future
'...the machine would carry his bag in its soft plastic jaws and follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'- John Brunner, 1975.
Arctic Resource Jackpot An Old Wish
By inducing climate change, new resources are revealed.
Marie Curie's Papers Still Radioactive
And the half-life of radium's most common isotope is 1,601 years.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Zap Space Debris With Telescope Laser On ISS
'... their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'
Moran Cerf, When Will We Get Neuro Tech For Ourselves?
If brainwave-sensing consumer products tickle your fancy...
Velkess Energy Storage System (It's A Flexible Flywheel!)
'The kinetic man unjacked Lalji’s kink-springs from the winding treadmills...'
Performance Enhancing Drugs - In Gaming?
'A faint smell of rachag stimulant wafted down the table.'
Automated Treadmill Adjusts To Your Pace
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched...'
Mr. Anderton, Beware This Long-Range Iris Scanner
Try keeping your eyes shut, Mr. Anderton.
Mini Statues Of You From 3D Images
'...A three-dimensional simulacrum of himself six inches high took form.'
'Forever' Camera Powered By Its Own Images
'What I have in this camera is not a record of what you did just now but what will go on here in the next half hour...'
Robot Chef Makes Thousands Of Dinners
'I got one of those new electronic cameras... and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'
Revault Wearable Private Cloud Is Too Vaporous
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres...'
Spacex Sticks Landing! But Neglects Lateral Forces
Lumo Projector Turns Kids Rooms Into Bradbury's Veldt
'The walls began to purr and recede... and presently an African veldt appeared...'
Ground Control Space Beer
Ninkasi Brewing Co. has its own space program.
Google Wants To Give Orders To Robot Armies
Or maybe they aren't bent on world domination.
Gestures Control Spider Robot Army
'What do you think - four spiders, one per floor?'
Hologram Protest World's First
'Their bodies were in their dwelling cells, but their telucid images filled the hall.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories