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If ringwoodite were exposed to the sun’s light it would shine blue, fitting, because deep within the earth’s mantle this curious mineral contains almost unmanageably vast volumes of super pressurized water. The reservoir of water contained within this formation of ringwoodite, thought to be in total three times the volume of the world’s surface oceans, lies 700 kilometers below the earth’s crust, deep in the mantle.

According to New Scientist 

“It’s good evidence the Earth’s water came from within,” says Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The hidden water could also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years.

Jacobsen’s team used 2000 seismometers to study the seismic waves generated by more than 500 earthquakes. These waves move throughout Earth’s interior, including the core, and can be detected at the surface. “They make the Earth ring like a bell for days afterwards,” says Jacobsen.

Jacobsen’s finding supports a recent study by Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Pearson studied a diamond from the transition zone that had been carried to the surface in a volcano, and found that it contained water-bearing ringwoodite, the first strong evidence that there was lots of water in the transition zone (Nature, doi.org/s6h).


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Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1253358