Scientists in the United States have found a massive reservoir of water three times the size of the Earth’s oceans, located 400 miles below the surface of the planet. The new study, published in the journal Science by Northwestern geophysicist Steve Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt, could also shed new light on the inner workings of our planet.
The discovery of a massive reservoir of water below the United States appears to confirm that water actually filters through the earth, from the oceans, collecting in vast reservoirs under the surface. This, in turn, is key to understanding exactly why our planet supports life in the way it does.
The presence of liquid water on the surface is what makes our so-called “blue planet” habitable. Scientists have long been trying to understand the dynamics of how water travels between surface of the Earth and interior reservoirs through plate tectonics.
Speaking to phys.org, Jacobsen commented on the significance of the findings:
“I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet. Scientists have been looking for this missing deep water for decades,” he said.
However, this is not a reservoir in the traditional sense – Jacobsen and Schmandt have not uncovered an enormous floating ocean below America. In fact, the water that is found there does not exist in liquid, ice or vapor form. Instead, in its “fourth form”, the water is trapped in the molecular structure of minerals within the mantle rock.
Incredibly, if only one percent of the Earth’s mantle rock contained water in this form, that would add up to three times the amount of water that is currently found in our oceans.