Massive Underground Ocean Exists Beneath Earth’s Crust

Summary: The first terrestrial discovery of Ringwoodite confirms the presence of massive amounts of water 400 to 700 kilometers beneath Earth’s surface.

Ringwoodite is a form of the mineral peridot, believed to exist in large quantities under high pressures in the transition zone.

Ringwoodite has been found in meteorites but, until now, no terrestrial sample has ever been unearthed because scientists haven’t been able to conduct fieldwork at extreme depths.

Scientists scanning the deep interior of Earth have found evidence of a vast water reservoir beneath eastern Asia that is at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean.

The discovery marks the first time such a large body of water has found in the planet’s deep mantle. [The World’s Biggest Oceans and Seas]

Water covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and one of its many functions is to act like a lubricant for the movement of continental plates.

The crust thickness averages about 18 miles (30 kilometers) under the continents, but is only about 3 miles (5 kilometers) under the oceans. It is light and brittle and can break. In fact it’s fractured into more than a dozen major plates and several minor ones. It is where most earthquakes originate.

The Earth’s radius is about 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers). The main layers of its interior are in descending order: crust, mantle and core.

The mantle is more flexible – it flows instead of fractures. It extends down to about 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) below the surface.

The core consists of a solid inner core and a fluid outer core. The fluid contains iron, which, as it moves, generates the Earth’s magnetic field. The crust and upper mantle form the lithosphere, which is broken up into several plates that float on top of the hot molten mantle below.

SOURCE: LiveScience

http://www.livescience.com/1312-huge-ocean-discovered-earth.html

The Godzilla Of Earths

The Godzilla Of Earths

The “Godzilla of Earths!” is in the foreground. Behind it is the smaller ‘lava world’. Their sun, in the back, appears to have been created only 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

Based on what we know about how solar systems form, researchers thought that a giant rocky planet could not exist. But they just found one that’s 17 times Earth’s mass. They’re calling it the Mega-Earth.

Scientists say the new planet may have “profound implications for the possibility of life” on extra-solar planets, according to a press release from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They announced the finding in a talk at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.

Researchers have always thought Mega-Earths were impossible since any planets that big would attract hydrogen gas, forming a gas planet like Jupiter.

Meet The Mega-Earth

Mega-Earth, also known as Kepler-10c, is 18,000 miles in diameter and 2.3 times as large as Earth. It appears to be as solid as the planet beneath our feet.

Kepler-10c was previously known to astronomers, but they had not yet measured its mass. Due to its size — 2.3 times that of Earth — it was assumed to be a “mini-Neptune,” a planet encased in thick gas. But the new observations have confirmed that it is rocky, not gassy.
It orbits an 11 billion-year-old star named Kepler-10 located 560 light years away from Earth. Its year lasts only 45 days.

Interestingly, this solar system is more than twice as old as our own — it was born less than 3 billion years after the Big Bang.

A Mysterious System

Researchers had previously thought that this kind of planet impossible.

Not only did they think something that big would be a gas giant, but they didn’t even think the elements that make up a rocky planet existed in our universe when this solar system was born: The early universe had only the lighter elements of hydrogen and helium.

Heavier elements were forged from these lighter ones in stars over billions of years.
Because of this, many scientists hadn’t been looking for rocky planets in these very old solar systems.

The mega-Earth isn’t the only weird planet in its solar system. There’s also a ‘lava-world’ 1.5 times Earth’s size whose year lasts only 20 hours.

By David A. Aguilar

What The World Would Look Like If All The Ice Melted

What The World Would Look Like If All The Ice Melted

If all of the ice in the world melted, sea levels would raise some 216 feet. But what exactly would that look like? And more specifically, what would such a worse-case scenario mean for the Earth’s population?

National Geographic has created a fascinating visual representation of this thought experiment and provided an analysis of how each continent would be affected by such a catastrophic change.

First off, this is not a blanket statement about climate change. As National Geographic notes, even scientists tracking the melting of ice around the world say it would take some 5,000 years for all the world’s ice to melt.

Still, it’s interesting to look at exactly what would happen if this scenario was taken to its most extreme conclusion.

As a result of the drastic rise in sea levels, the average temperature around the Earth would rise from 58 degrees to 80 degrees.

In North America, the entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish beneath the waves, including Florida and the Gulf Coast. Much of California would be underwater. Millions of Americans would be permanently dislocated from their homes to say nothing of the potentially insurmountable impact on natural wildlife.

And again, this scenario is only based on current population figures. Who knows what the Earth will look like in 5,000 years and how many people will be living here?

In South America, Buenos Aires, coastal Uruguay and most of Paraguay would be submerged.

Africa would technically be largely untouched but much of its would become inhabitable because of the increased temperature. In Egypt, Alexandria and Cairo would be “swamped” by flooding waters from the Mediterranean.

Many of Europe’s greatest landmarks would be destroyed: London would disappear, Venice, gone. The Netherlands and most of Denmark would also be entirely underwater.

In Asia, National Geographic says land currently inhabited by 600 million Chinese would be underwater, as would all of Bangladesh and coastal India.

As for Australia, they would gain a new sea in the center of the continent, but lose the coastal strip where more than 80 percent of the population lives.

And Antarctica? Virtually unrecognizable. After all, that’s where the vast majority of the Earth’s ice resides today.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that overall ice reduction will depend on several factors, including: The rate at which levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere continue to increase, how strongly features of the climate (e.g., temperature, precipitation, and sea level) respond to the expected increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and natural influences on climate (e.g., from volcanic activity and changes in the sun’s intensity) and natural processes within the climate system (e.g., changes in ocean circulation patterns)

(Photo credit: Jason Treat, Matthew Twombly, Web Barr, Maggie Smith, NGM Staff; Art: Kees Veenenbos. Sources: Philippe Huybrechts, Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Richard S. Williams Jr., Woods Hole Research Center; James C. Zachos, University of California Santa Cruz; USGS, NOAA, ETOPO1 Bedrock; 1 Arc-Minute Global Relief Model)

By Eric Pfeiffer