Scientists recently discovered a small, rough diamond that reveals an ocean of water below the Earth’s surface. The battered diamond discovered in a riverbed in Brazil provides evidence for a huge “wet zone” in the transition zone of the planet, about 250 to 400 miles below the Earth’s surface between the lower and upper mantle. Scientists believe that the gemstone reached the surface of the planet after a volcanic eruption shot it out of the Earth at about 40 mph, and moisture within the rock shows that there is probably more water in that part of the planet than in all of the oceans combined.
Unfortunately, the wet zone isn’t an exciting Jules Verne-version with rolling seas under the crust of the planet. The water is actually trapped inside the minerals of the transition zone, as this gem stone reveals. About 1.5 percent of the diamond is water, and if you calculate the amount of similar stones in the Earth, it equates to more water than in all of the oceans on the surface.
The diamond isn’t the kind you see in jewelry – that kind of stone is found in much shallower depths. Scientists describe the newly discovered stone as a fairly ugly specimen because it has been knocked around on its way to the surface. It was discovered by artisan miners working in the riverbeds of western Brazil. Graham Pearson, a geologist who has studied the stone, and his team happened to discover the presence of a mineral known as ringwoodite, an olivine that requires super high pressures to form.
The discovery allows scientists to finally confirm moisture in the transition zone, something they hadn’t been able to do because it is impossible to obtain a sample from that depth. The existence of ringwoodite has been hypothesized, but never actually seen until now. Knowing more about the planet’s interior allows scientists to better explain some of the oddities that we see on the surface, like spots of uplift and the presence of volcanoes, which could form where water weakens areas below the continental plates. Pearson and his colleagues published their findings in the most recent edition of the Nature journal.