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First water in ringwoodite ever found hints at oceans in Earth’s mantle

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The first ringwoodite that contains water ever found by man was reported by Graham Pearson, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Resources at the University of Alberta, and colleagues in the March 12, 2014, edition of the journal Nature.

Ringwoodite is a magnesium iron silicate that has been found on the Earth’s surface in meteorites and is produced by the deepest volcanoes on Earth.

Ringwoodite normally contains no water but the sample the researchers bought in the Juina area of Mato Grosso, Brazil in 2008 contains about 1.5 percent water in the crystals.

The inclusion of water in the ringwoodite crystals indicates that substantial pockets of water exist between the Earth’s upper and lower mantle between 250 miles and 410 miles below the surface of the Earth. These regions are the lowest extremities of volcanic activity.

The researchers spent six years confirming the presence of water in the ringwoodite sample and invoked the assistance of an international group of scientists from the Geoscience Institute at Goethe University, the University of Padova, Durham University, the University of Vienna, Trigon GeoServices, and Ghent University to confirm the discovery before publishing.

This discovery confirms the theory that large volumes of water exist between the upper layer and lower layer of the Earth’s mantle. This water is in part responsible for the dynamic activity of the Earth’s crust that includes volcanoes and earthquakes.

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