Underground “Oceans” Discovered
Rock deep in the mantle may hold much of earth’s water, providing clues to the “fountains of the deep” that contributed to the biblical Flood.
Get ready to add a new cog to your water cycle. We are now discovering that God’s amazing design includes literally bringing water from a rock.
It turns out the largest reservoir of earth’s water is not the ocean, the atmosphere or the ice caps. In fact, much of the water on earth is neither liquid nor vapor nor ice. Scientists have new evidence that much of our planet’s water hides in the form of hydroxyl radicals within rocks hundreds of miles below earth’s surface.
In a study published in Science on June 13, coauthors Steve Jacobsen, Northwestern University geophysicist, and Brandon Schmandt, University of New Mexico seismologist, showed that rocks at the base of the upper mantle are partially melting due to water trapped in the mineral ringwoodite.
Water currently moves slowly back and forth between this layer of the earth and the surface through plate tectonics. It wells up from the depths with erupting lava, and sinks into the mantle with parts of the oceanic crust that are being forced beneath moving continents.
Under the incredible temperatures and pressures of the mantle, dramatic changes occur. The green mineral olivine, common on the surface, reorganizes into sapphire-blue ringwoodite. Water splits into hydroxyl radicals that bind to the mineral’s crystal structure. Studies of ringwoodite have shown that it may be able to hold 2.5 percent of its weight in water.
At even greater depths, however, the rocks can no longer hold much water, and so they partially “melt” to unload. Jacobsen demonstrated this melting effect in the lab, squeezing samples between diamonds to simulate conditions 400 miles underground. The resulting pockets of magma also show up in Schmandt’s seismographic data, confirming that there is quite a bit of water underground!
The “transition zone” between the upper and lower mantle is estimated to hold from one to three times the amount of all the water in the oceans. Since previous calculations indicated that the vast majority (96 percent) of earth’s water is in the ocean, that means the earth may have two to four times as much water as we previously thought!
We are now discovering that God’s amazing design for the water cycle includes literally bringing water from a rock.Source of water for the Flood?
Sometimes skeptics claim that there isn’t enough water to cover the mountains in a worldwide flood as the Bible describes (Genesis 7:20), but this discovery may significantly change that calculation. The Bible explains that some of the water came from rain, but some of it arose when the “fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11). Perhaps God used water from His underground ocean to create this spectacular and devastating deluge.
The majesty of God’s creation and the accuracy of His Word continues to amaze and inspire as we study more about His creation (Romans 1:20). We truly worship the God “who turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters,” as Psalm 114:8 proclaims!
Read more about the Creator God in the articles in the section “Is There a God?”