THE SE­CRET OCEAN

UN­DER THE EARTH

iD magazine - - Nature -

When John Mcneill steps into his lab at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta, he has no idea that he is on the verge of dis­cov­er­ing a hid­den ocean. He he had col­lected sam­ples near di­a­mond mines in Brazil. Now a mini di­a­mond weigh­ing a mere 0.09 grams is po­si­tioned on his spec­trom­e­ter—and the anal­y­sis takes Mcneill’s breath away…

Hid­den within the pre­cious gem is ringwoodite, a min­eral that is formed un­der in­tense pres­sure. Where? In the cos­mos or deep in the Earth. One of its prop­er­ties is that it can store water, and about 1.5% of its con­sti­tu­tion is in fact water (though not in liq­uid form). With this find, re­searchers can now prove that a gi­gan­tic ocean ex­ists about 400 miles be­neath North Amer­ica. Now ex­perts even sus­pect that a large part of the planet’s water has orig­i­nated deep inside its in­te­rior. Ge­ol­o­gist Steve Ja­cob­sen talks of 1 bil­lion cu­bic miles of water oc­cur­ring un­der North Amer­ica alone—more than three times the vol­ume of all the world’s oceans. If this amount of water rained down on Earth, only the high­est moun­tains would still be vis­i­ble above the su­per ocean.

Sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered a gi­gan­tic ocean more than 400 miles be­low Earth’s sur­face. And it’s bound in a min­eral that is usu­ally only found in space…

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