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Deep Earth Mysteries

Wed, 2016/11/30 - 1:12pm -- shawn
Mainak Mookherjee

Water covers about 70 percent of the Earth's surface, but scientists also want to know how much lies inside the planet.

A mineral called brucite may hold part of that answer, according to EOAS Assistant Professor Mainak Mookherjee.

In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, FSU Assistant Professor of Geology Mainak Mookherjee reports that water exists far deeper in the Earth than scientists previously thought.

The significance of the work is summarized in the article:

Hydrous minerals help transport water deep into the Earth's mantle, and form part of a cycle that regulates the sustained presence of surface water on Earth. To understand the deep-water cycle, it is crucial to study the properties of hydrous minerals under the conditions present in Earth's mantle. Brucite is one of the simplest hydrous minerals and stores significant amounts of water as hydroxyl groups. It is assumed to decompose in the mantle transition zone, but we show here that a more compact high-pressure phase is stabilized instead that pushes the stability region of brucite into the lower mantle. Brucite might be present in much larger quantities, and play a larger role in water transport and storage, than previously thought.

Link to the research paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/11/18/1611571113.abstract

Link to FSU News article:  http://news.fsu.edu/news/science-technology/2016/11/21/fsu-researcher-targeting-mysteries-deep-earth/