Scientists say they have found evidence of a large underground reservoir of water about 400 miles beneath the surface.
The study, put together by Northwestern University geophysicist Steve Jacobsen, University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt and a team of scientists say that the water isn’t in liquid form though, but rather is trapped in a mineral called ringwoodite, reports The Huffington Post. They believe that the amount of water trapped that deep, easily triples all the water in the world’s oceans.
According to USA Today, the discovery was made after the team of researchers found pockets of magma at around the same depth below the surface.
Normally, at a depth of about 50 miles, water is condensed and the rocks begin to melt thanks to plate tectonics and higher temperatures created by the constant plate shifting, but they didn’t realize it could occur so far down.
“We knew about the water cycle, but we didn’t know how deep it extended,” he said. “It looks like the same process occurring in the very shallow mantle is occurring at a deeper layer.
Jacobsen believes that the discovery could potentially explain where water comes from on Earth. “It may be why we have stable oceans on the surface,” the geophysicist said and noted that it has long been a debate among others in his field.
Jacobsen noted that the water likely could never be pulled to the surface and the discovery “has more to do with understanding the composition of the Earth.”