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Earth's deep interior holds vast reservoir of water

Blue mineral offers peek inside the mantle

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1:42pm, June 13, 2014

BOLT FROM THE BLUE  New lab experiments with the blue mineral ringwoodite (shown) that mimicked the intense pressures and temperatures of the Earth’s mantle suggest that its midsection, or transition zone, holds a considerable amount of water.

An ocean’s worth of water is locked deep within the Earth and may influence all sorts of geological processes, including the grinding of tectonic plates, the formation of volcanoes and the movement of Earth’s elements.

Researchers examined the rumbling of seismic waves and performed lab experiments that mimicked the crushing pressures and extreme temperatures of Earth’s mantle, the thick layer of the planet between the crust and core. The results make a strong case that a huge amount of water resides within the planet, says Yale University geophysicist Jennifer Girard, who was not involved with the study. The findings appear in the June 13 Science.

Some of this water may have been trapped during the early days of Earth’s history, before the oceans formed. Water also travels into the mantle during subduction, when tectonic plates collide and ocean-soaked crust dives

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