A team of researchers has discovered ice crystals in a diamond. Probably not a huge discovery, you may think, but this ice, names Ice-VII, is coming from the Earth’s mantle and has been supposed, until now, that it only naturally exists on other planets and their moons and can only be made in a lab.
“One essential question that we are working on is how much water is actually stored in the mantle. Is it oceans, or just a little bit? This work shows there can be free excess fluids in the mantle, which is important,” stated Oliver Tschauner, a researcher at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the study’s leading author.
There is water in the Earth’s mantle
The mantle in one of the Earth’s underground layers and is formed by very hot rocks which are exposed to a tremendous pressure. The mantle is made of 3 layers and while the lower layer doesn’t hold any water and the upper layer only holds a small amount of water, the medium layer or the transition zone hold huge amounts of water and minerals in a more soluble form than those found above the surface of the planet.
How did the water in the diamonds freeze?
The frozen water, called Ice-VII, is crystallized which could’ve only happened under unbelievably great pressure. The diamonds were found in mines in China, Zaire, South Africa, and Sierra Leone and were exposed to X-ray studies at the particle accelerator found at the Argonne National Lab, in Illinois, the USA.
“We don’t have enough information from natural samples for understanding the deeper parts of the Earth. Now that we have the techniques to analyze these inclusions in diamonds, I think there will be much more coming out in the future,” said Oliver Tschauner, a UNLV geoscientist.
The recent discovery of ice crystals in diamonds, depicted as Ice-VII, is the evidence that, despite old theories, there is water deep in the Earth’s mantle and that there is a water cycle on the Earth that also involves its deepest undergrounds.