An Underground Ocean? Scientists Discover Water Deep Within Earth

Ocean Wave Underwater Loop

Scientists discovered evidence of water hundreds of kilometers deep.

An international research team led by a Goethe University professor analyzes diamond inclusions.

An international study confirms that the Earth’s transition zone (TZ), located between the upper and lower mantles, holds considerable amounts of water. The discovery, based on the analysis of a rare diamond from Botswana, changes our understanding of the Earth’s internal dynamics, including the formation and movement of mantle plumes, and the behavior of subducting plates.

The boundary layer between the upper and lower mantles of the Earth is known as the transition zone (TZ). It is located between 410 and 660 kilometers (between 255 and 410 miles) under the surface. The olive-green mineral olivine, commonly known as peridot, which makes up around 70% of the Earth’s upper mantle, changes its crystalline structure at the extreme pressure of up to 23,000 bar in the TZ. At a depth of around 410 kilometers (255 miles), at the upper edge of the transition zone, it changes into denser wadsleyite, and at a depth of 520 kilometers (323 miles), it transforms into even denser ringwoodite.

“These mineral transformations greatly hinder the movements of rock in the mantle,” explains Professor Frank Brenker from the Institute for Geosciences at Goethe University in Frankfurt. For example, mantle plumes – rising columns of hot rock from the deep mantle – sometimes stop directly below the transition zone. The movement of mass in the opposite direction also comes to standstill. Brenker says, “Subducting plates often have difficulty in breaking through the entire transition zone. So there is a whole graveyard of such plates in this zone underneath Europe.”

Diamond Goethe University

The diamond from Botswana revealed to scientists that considerable amounts of water are stored in the rock at a depth of more than 600 kilometers. Credit: Tingting Gu, Gemological Institute of America, New York, NY, USA

However, until now it was not known what the long-term effects of “sucking” material into the transition zone were on its geochemical composition and whether larger quantities of water existed there. Brenker explains: “The subducting slabs also carry deep-sea sediments piggyback into the Earth’s interior. These sediments can hold large quantities of water and CO2. But until now it was unclear just how much enters the transition zone in the form of more stable, hydrous minerals and carbonates – and it was therefore also unclear whether large quantities of water really are stored there.”

The current circumstances would undoubtedly favor this. The thick minerals wadsleyite and ringwoodite can hold significant amounts of water (unlike olivine at lower depths), so much so that the transition zone could hypothetically absorb six times the quantity of water in our oceans. “So we knew that the boundary layer has an enormous capacity for storing water,” Brenker says. “However, we didn’t know whether it actually did so.”

The answer has now been provided by an international study. The research team analyzed a diamond from Botswana, Africa. It originated at a depth of 660 kilometers, directly at the interface between the transition zone and the lower mantle, where the dominant mineral is ringwoodite. Diamonds from this location are very rare, even among the extremely rare diamonds of super-deep origin, which account for just 1% of all diamonds. The studies found that the stone had a high water content due to the presence of many ringwoodite inclusions. The study team was also able to establish the chemical composition of the stone.

It was almost exactly the same as that of virtually every fragment of mantle rock found in basalts anywhere in the world. This showed that the diamond definitely came from a normal piece of the Earth’s mantle. “In this study, we have demonstrated that the transition zone is not a dry sponge, but holds considerable quantities of water,” Brenker says, adding: “This also brings us one step closer to Jules Verne’s idea of an ocean inside the Earth.” The difference is that there is no ocean down there, but hydrous rock which, according to Brenker, would neither feel wet nor drip water.

Hydrous ringwoodite was first detected in a diamond from the transition zone as early as 2014. Brenker was involved in that study, too. However, it was not possible to determine the precise chemical composition of the stone because it was too small. It, therefore, remained unclear how representative the first study was of the mantle in general, as the water content of that diamond could also have resulted from an exotic chemical environment. By contrast, the inclusions in the 1.5-centimeter (0.6 inches) diamond from Botswana, which the research team investigated in the present study, were large enough to allow the precise chemical composition to be determined, and this supplied final confirmation of the preliminary results from 2014.

The transition zone’s high water content has far-reaching consequences for the dynamic situation inside the Earth. What this leads to can be seen, for example, in the hot mantle plumes coming from below, which get stuck in the transition zone. There, they heat up the water-rich transition zone, which in turn leads to the formation of new smaller mantle plumes that absorb the water stored in the transition zone.

If these smaller water-rich mantle plumes now migrate further upwards and break through the boundary to the upper mantle, the following happens: The water contained in the mantle plumes is released, which lowers the melting point of the emerging material. It, therefore, melts immediately and not just before it reaches the surface, as usually happens. As a result, the rock masses in this part of the Earth’s mantle are no longer as tough overall, which gives the mass movements more dynamism. The transition zone, which otherwise acts as a barrier to the dynamics there, suddenly becomes a driver of global material circulation.

Reference: “Hydrous peridotitic fragments of Earth’s mantle 660 km discontinuity sampled by a diamond” by Tingting Gu, Martha G. Pamato, Davide Novella, Matteo Alvaro, John Fournelle, Frank E. Brenker, Wuyi Wang and Fabrizio Nestola, 26 September 2022, Nature Geoscience.
DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-01024-y

51 Comments on "An Underground Ocean? Scientists Discover Water Deep Within Earth"

  1. The title on this one is over the while being distant from the actual content. Please don’t do that — this is interesting enough without pretending it’s anything like an ocean.

  2. BibhutibhusanPatel | October 19, 2022 at 5:17 pm | Reply

    Therè Great Ocean is cited in mythology ķeepìng balance to earth crust and creation on ìt by the God.Èven indirect evìdence of such water accumulation is found from some other natural occurance and phenomena of geological activity over the earth surface at mixing zone of Decan Trap and the Eastern Ghats in India with certain geochemical activities.Even some preliminary descriptions in this context are present in myth.

  3. Leonides teriales | October 19, 2022 at 9:04 pm | Reply

    Water down there is the water compressed by allmighty GOD after the flood when noah step down from the ark.

  4. Or it’s just water. Like from the earth. Doubt Noah had that much water in his boot.

  5. I already knew that Allah is great indeed!!!

  6. Since I was a boy and I first red the Hebrew Bible p

  7. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life… all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” ~ Genesis 7:11-12

    “The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters receded from the earth continually.” ~ Genesis 8:2-3

  8. H²O + CO² and any combo of elements mostly Helium makes up most hydrocarbons we use in gas or liquid form. shales and coal are plant base but oil, NG, Methane are volcanic/geological.

  9. Is there always a lot of religious nuts commenting here or I’m I missing some sarcasm?

  10. Religion is problematic. Attracts a lot of idiots and makes the gullible go crazy.

  11. Don’t open it, it’s a PORTAL to HELL!

  12. Just another example of not fully understanding our own planet. How is it possible that claims are made of having intimate knowledge of celestial objects deep into space

  13. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
    Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
    Water dissolving and water removing
    There is water at the bottom of the ocean
    Under the water, carry the water
    Remove the water from the bottom of the ocean
    Water dissolving and water removing

  14. Latest discoveries re: water entrapment within mantle very revolutionary!

  15. Of course there is water under the surface, thats why the tectonic plates move ever so slowly around the world because even they don’t reach the ocean floor… all land we sand on is a floating island.. all things on earth have water, it the main building block of nething on earth… this article is faux, and no real scientist should be wasting there their time proving what should be common sense

  16. Matthew Blackwood | October 21, 2022 at 6:43 am | Reply

    We Christians already know this, it’s where the flood water came from from Noah’s flood. Religion is bad, it’s man made, true Christianity is not man made it is God made and is not religion. I was atheist for 40 years but now I know without a doubt the God of the Holy Bible is real and Jesus Christ is our path to salvation from hell. I will be attacked it mocked for this but the Bible told me that would happen also so I expect it. God loves you all even if you don’t believe in him.

  17. I love how they make you check a box saying that you are not a spammer before posting on a comment section that is 100% pure spam.

  18. I wish people wouldn’t be so quick as to dismiss the wisdom contained within literature just because some people interpret it incorrectly, perhaps on purpose, but always to suit themselves. Calling someone a “religious nut” for quoting an ancient text which clearly appears applicable in this context, only hurts the individual who chooses to remain ignorant

  19. What is going on here? | October 21, 2022 at 7:55 am | Reply

    What a garbage click bait title. Brenker is quoted as saying there is no ocean underground, but rather hydrous rocks. Consequently, author somehow decides that a proper title for the article is to ask if there is an underground ocean and picks a picture that is in no way representative of the contents of this article. And to make matters worse, the comments are populated by religious lunatics quoting some imaginary scripture.

  20. Well said, very intersting

  21. In truth they are in a front to the gods and they shall be cleansed with the purest of light, without mercy or regret.

  22. I don’t think these God-botherers actually read a single word of the article. Their loss. What a boring way to look at such a beautiful, fascinating, dynamic drama playing out miles beneath our feet.

  23. Religion has basis of science in its expressions. Our forefathers were more intelligent, very strong with great capabilities. The religious texts have to be studied and understood. With all development in science, you can’t build the pyramid like they have done with their resources!

  24. It’s okay Jesus died for indignant Satan worshiping atheist ignoramuses as well

  25. Reporting this for the misleading title..shame on you

  26. Funny as hell you guys made my day

  27. I am not a religious NUT. There are books that scientifically prove the Bible is correct.

  28. Very late info…. Dr.Kent Hovid as already discussed this for years

  29. Read the Bible it tells you so duh

  30. They have made up so much bulls*** trying to hide primary water tables.

    There is unlimited water under our feet. They killed Gadaffi for trying to expose primary water

  31. Michael Johnston | October 22, 2022 at 8:32 am | Reply

    Always call anything in the Bible mythology that way your idea will be considered intelligent. Sounds like critical thinking is subjected to ignorant bias. Just saying.

  32. Its sad that someone has to be so negative about someone elses comment on religion, very immature. Why would it bother you if someone comments on religion? We sure need grown-ups nowadays!

  33. Most of the religious nuts are still looking for Noah’s Ark and a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow!

  34. Hey the Bible thumper article was relevant.

  35. “Overall, Christians have won a total of 78.3% of all the Nobel Prizes in Peace, 72.5% in Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, 54% in Economics and 49.5% of all Literature awards.”
    Add to this the likes of “relious” types like Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo. Do you call all these people idiots”?The pro lem isn’t religion, it’s people who are arrogant enough to put themselves above others with misinformed judgements.

  36. Re all comments on religion; God is not religious! It’s not religion but a fact of reality that Genesis describes what is, what exists. Relationship with God is the opposite of religion. Science, by and large is ignorant of Biblical fact. Wake up! Now’s your chance to get into relationship with God through: believing Jesus Christ IS who He says He is, confess you cannot live a sin free life, ask God to forgive you and invite Him to live in you. Thus being saved from His wrath and eternity in hell.

  37. The Bible states. The fountains of the great deep burst open. No coincidence that this was mentioned over two thousand years!

  38. Tell me something new….. there are rivers under all
    The great rivers… rivers that are deeper, wider and longer
    …. Right, that cross from one continent to another….

  39. to me this is just more proof that the Holy Bible is true and for those of you that want to talk smack about people being religious do you talk smack about people for freedom of choice) freedom of speech, gender identity no that’s too taboo but you want to dis people because they believe in God?in this day and age people are accepted no matter how they are how they look what gender they want to be but when people are religious they’re nuts because they want to have a set of morals people are complex beings do you think we just happened by accident that’s ridiculous I don’t affiliate with any religion but I believe the Bible word for word wholeheartedly

  40. Is it fresh or salt water? Really good to know if fresh and can possibly be used.

  41. Nice article 👍.

  42. So, we are the nuts? We see design and think designer. You see complexity whish us outside mathematical probability. Let’s just be honest that you deny God so you can live however you want. Because if you acknowledge Him, you are accountable to Him. We see a car able to run in dealership, and respect the designer. You see a car and think wow a tornado must have soun all these parts together oh how interesting it runs. May God open your eyes to see Because he having eyes you do not see

  43. Sounds like primary water theory.

  44. The deepest hole ever drilled was 23,000 feet ..amazing how we know so much from hundreds of miles deep ..or do we ?

  45. The Bible talks about the fountains of the deep. Interesting. The Bible always proves itself over and over again. Which makes it quite problematic for some.

  46. You are getting both nuts and sarcasm.ERICA

  47. Ido believe in God and anything is possible with God. But, what I read and learn by science are fact’s that is what I love about The first comment on here I do agree this is very interesting all by its self they don’t have to oversell it.

  48. Happy,sooo happy to be a religious nut! Makes our God proud 🙏. Praying for you too.God is great,all the time.

  49. Novratana Sharma | October 26, 2022 at 11:46 pm | Reply

    We all comments based on our knowledge, But why we try to impose our thoughts on others

  50. The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.(The Book of JOB.

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