In a pathbreaking study, the scientists have discovered a rare mineral Ringwoodite that suggests the possibility of hidden oceans buried beneath the Earth’s surface.
An international team of scientists led by Graham Pearson, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Resources at the University of Alberta have found the first terrestrial sample of a water-rich gem which suggests that large volumes of water exist deep beneath the Earth.
The researchers analyzed the rare mineral and found that it contains a significant amount of water i.e. 1.5 percent of its weight. These findings suggest that about vast volumes of water are trapped 410 to 660 kilometres beneath the Earth between the upper and lower mantle.
Pearson, a professor in the Faculty of Science, said, “This sample really provides extremely strong confirmation that there are local wet spots deep in the Earth in this area. That particular zone in the Earth, the transition zone, might have as much water as all the world’s oceans put together.’
Ringwoodite is a form of the mineral peridot, believed to exist in large quantities under high pressures in the transition zone.
Researchers say, the rare mineral Ringwoodite has been found in meteorites so far and this is for the first time that its terrestrial sample has been unearthed.
Pearson calls the discovery almost accidental as his team was looking for another mineral when they found a three-millimetre-wide, dirty-looking, commercially worthless brown diamond.
The ringwoodite is invisible to the naked eye and therefore, researchers used Raman and infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction to analyze the mineral, before it was officially confirmed as ringwoodite.
The study is published in the journal Nature.