Ringwoodite is notable for being able to contain hydroxide ions (oxygen and hydrogen atoms bound together) within its structure. Combined with evidence of its occurrence deep in the Earth’s mantle, this suggests that there is from one to three times the world ocean’s equivalent of water in the mantle transition zone from 410 to 660 km deep.
This mineral was first identified in the Tenham meteorite in 1969, and it is inferred to be present in large quantity in the Earth’s mantle.
Ringwoodite was named after the Australian earth scientist Ted Ringwood (1930–1993), who studied polymorphic phase transitions in the common mantle minerals olivine and pyroxene at pressures equivalent to depths as great as about 600 km.
What could all this mean for the future of life as we know it ?
Can man access this resource and extract the H2O ?
A video demonstrating this discovery
But while they were creating some models and simulations of ringwoodite water behavior, another likely candidate emerged: garnet. Garnet could be a water carrier, transporting some of the water to the surface, while some of it still remains in the mantle.
“If all of the Earth’s water is on the surface, that gives us one interpretation of the water cycle, where we can think of water cycling from oceans into the atmosphere and into the groundwater over millions of years,” she said. “But if mantle circulation is also part of the water cycle, the total cycle time for our planet’s water has to be billions of years.”
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