As we persist in haphazardly polluting global water, what would it mean if three times as much surface water was locked beneath the Earth? Geophysicist Dr. Steven Jacobsen and Seismologist Dr. Brandon Schmandt think a “ocean” lays 650 Kilometers beneath the surface of North America.
Before you breath a sigh of relief, thinking some underground “do over” waits to salvage our flippant disregard for limited resources – it doesn’t wait to fill your water bottle. Jacobsen and Schmandt believe the water is locked within a crystalline mineral called Ringwoodite. By studying seismic waves during earthquakes, researchers think Earth’s mantle is “saturated” with water. The two published results last June in the journal Science, Their data was collected beneath North America – further exploration is taking place to understand if the entire planet hides deep mantle water.
Pondering the possibility of 3 times as much water, hundreds of miles below the surface, isn’t a discovery of some future supply once we’ve turned ours to sludge. What it is, is a step closer to understanding life in relation to water. Life as we know it can’t exist without water – if all this water resides in Earth’s mantle – what forms of life might lie beneath the surface of other planets, perhaps even those in our solar system?