Earth Makes Its Own Water From Quartz Rocks

By Donna Marie Lapena Padua , Jan 30, 2017 05:23 AM EST

While scientists are busy looking for signs of oxygen and hydrogen on other planets, two new studies focused on how Earth makes its own water. Scientists have reportedly been digging into the mystery on how the planet got its water as there were initially several theories regarding the source. Scientists now claim that a reaction between liquid hydrogen and rocks in the mantle of the Earth can form water.

Unlike the other planets in the solar system, Earth is seen with abundance in water which has been supporting life for millions of years now. Scientists then took a step to study how Earth makes its own water. While in the earlier years, experts have suggested that water formed on the surface of the planet after icy comets have collided with Earth billions of years earlier, the latest studies found out that hydrogen can be formed through the rocks on the upper mantle of the planet.

A series of computer simulations have shown how reaction between liquid hydrogen and the rock quartz found in the upper mantle can form water. However, the reactions from the elements are also reportedly capable of triggering earthquakes. According to the New Scientist, scientists looked into the reaction happening at certain conditions like varying temperature and pressures which happen in the upper mantle. The readings were reportedly noted from 24-248 miles below the Earth’s surface.

It was then revealed that at about 1400°C and at a pressure 20,000 times higher than the atmospheric pressure, silica and hydrogen creates a reaction that in turn produces liquid water and silicon hydride. Quartz, which is the most common form of silica, and liquid hydrogen at the proper conditions are being looked at as the real source of water on Earth, rather than the initially concluded extraterrestrial objects. As per report, John Tse from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada said: “As long as the supply of hydrogen can be sustained, one can speculate that water formed from this process could be a contributor to the origin of water during Earth’s early accretion.”

The findings from this new study was published on the Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The results are reportedly in support of the previous results taken from the study performed by a Japanese team which sparked the same reaction back in 2014. Although the research on how the Earth makes its own water resulted to a clearer conclusion, the reaction was also found out to cause great pressure that can lead to earthquakes. The pressure needed for the quartz and liquid hydrogen to create water reportedly reaches up to 200,000 atmospheres. Researchers believe that the process where Earth makes its own water still happens today and that it might also be taking place on other planets.

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