How the Earth Could Make Water in Its Upper Mantle
Did you see the recent study on the possibility of how the Earth makes water?
The current popular theory is that asteroids brought water to our planet. Really? When 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water? This new discovery makes more sense. Here’s a quote from the article, Who needs asteroids? Earth makes its own water deep within the mantle:
“We show it’s possible to have water forming in Earth’s natural environment, rather than being of extraterrestrial origin.”
The reason this is possible is because of quartz, a common form of silica (aka silicon dioxide), which is widely abundant in Earth’s crust and mantle.
Quartz is actually very stable, but in the upper mantle – which extends from Earth’s crust down to a depth of about 410 km (250 miles) – enough heat and pressure can cajole the material to chemically react.
Specifically, the simulations show that once you venture deep enough into the upper mantle to reach a temperature of 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,552 degrees Fahrenheit) and a pressure 20,000 times greater than atmospheric pressure, quartz reacts with liquid hydrogen to produce silicon hydride and… liquid water…
While a team of scientists in Japan ran lab experiments on this process back in 2014, Tse’s team came up with some surprising findings of their own.
When they simulated the reaction, the liquid water didn’t form in the way the scientists expected…
“The hydrogen fluid diffuses through the quartz layer, but ends up forming water not at the surface, but in the bulk of the mineral. We analysed the density and structure of the trapped water, and found that it is highly pressurised.”
Because it can’t escape from the quartz once formed, the confined water – which the team estimates is under as much as 200,000 atmospheres of pressure – could bring about violent, unexpected seismic activity underground.
My Thoughts on This Discovery
I won’t go into detail in this post because I wrote about the possible explanations of Noah’s Flood in earlier posts on The Sovereign, which I’ll recommend you read for the details (I’ll include links for you).
In brief, the Bible explains that subterranean water burst out like fountains at the start of the Flood.
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” Genesis 7:11 (ESV)
This recent study could explain the immense pressure we’d expect as the water was released from the upper mantle. Instead of a slow accumulation of water in the world’s oceans, we should then expect to see geologic evidence for the Flood, such as the splits all over the globe known as the mid-ocean ridges. These ridges could indicate that the subterranean water ruptured the earth’s crust and provided the water for the world’s oceans. For my favorite explanation of how the Flood may actually have occurred, read The Hydroplate Theory and Noah’s Flood, which is illustrated in an old video by Dr. Walter Brown.
In researching for this post, I was surprised to see that the mid-Atlantic ridge cuts through Iceland and is a popular tourist destination at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. (If you’re into scuba, you can dive in the rift, too.) I’m adding hiking along the mid-Atlantic ridge to my bucket list!
You might also be interested in more evidence of water deep in the Earth through a study of terrestrial ringwoodite; click on over to Evidence of Water Deep in the Earth.