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Deepest Water in the Earth Revealed by Diamonds

2022-12-13

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/03/08

A special type of ice crystal within gems is pointing in the direction of water being as much as 800 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. As Gramling (2018) notes in Science News, “Researchers discovered ice-VII entombed within a diamond. This cubic form of ice (crystal structure shown) is found only at very high pressures such as those deep in Earth’s interior.”

As things appear to be the case, with the high-pressured formed ice-VII, the high-density ice embedded in diamond offers some clues as to the nature of the Earth between 610 and 800 kilometres beneath its surface.

This crystal does not exist on the Earth’s surface, which the researchers deduce means that the there is abundant water 610 to 800 kilometres deep within the mantle of the Earth.

Its presence in diamonds suggests that there is water-rich fluid in the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle, and even into the top of the lower mantle,” Gramling stated.

A Mantle Petrologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explained that this was the first time researchers have found the water at these depths into the Earth.

One fact is when the Earth’s crust moves deep into the Earth over long periods of time that it drags water in with it. This leads to many questions. How much water? How deep? And so on.

We do not know how deep the crust slabs move into the Earth. “Researchers have suspected that abundant aqueous fluid exists in the deep mantle,” Gramling stated, “Ferried there by slabs bearing water-rich minerals that shed their water when they reach the transition zone.”

The new evidence of water provides some new information and sheds light on the possibilities of the happenings that deep into the Earth’s surface. The diamonds were key because as they formed they created internal-to-themselves pockets where miniscule amounts of fluid or rock from their surroundings can enter, and stay — for researchers to pick up.

A Mineralogist, Oliver Tschauner, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and others were not looking for ice when they found it using variety of techniques including X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray fluorescence.

The contents of the diamonds used in the research had a variety of fluids with salts, and carbon-rich fluids as well. These water-rich fluids may help with the circulation of tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions.

The water deep below the surface may help rocks melt, where the water helps with the redistribution of the heat in the mantle of the Earth. The water, apparently, reduces the melting point for the hot rock under pressure.

Potassium, thorium, and uranium are large and heat-producing elements, which do not fit well in the crystalline and rigid structure of the minerals. The melted rock can help.

One researcher said, “You just need a little bit of fluid, and they are moving into the melt.”

But there was one interesting final note by Gramling, “The study also raised another mystery. Fluid inclusions within diamonds originating at shallower depths, perhaps 150 to 200 kilometers below the surface, contain a mélange of water, salt and carbonates. But Tschauner and his colleagues found that in their deep diamonds, the inclusions are sequestered individually: ice in one inclusion, carbonates in another, salts in yet a third.” ‘We were surprised that they were all separate rather than occurring together,’ Tschauner says.”

References

Gramling, C. (2018, March 8). Diamonds reveal sign of the deepest water known inside Earth. Retrieved from https://www.sciencenews.org/article/diamonds-reveal-sign-deepest-water-known-inside-earth.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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