We should not imagine subterranean oceans as depicted in Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, but scientists keep finding evidence for vast amounts of water far below the surface in the form of hydrated minerals. The newfound waters are causing quite a stir.
Geologists publishing in Science compared differences in the velocity of seismic energy passing beneath the western U.S. to models that predict water’s effects on seismic waves.1 They found good agreement between the models and actual recorded data, so it appears that disseminated water in the “transition zone” near the top of earth’s lower mantle—approximately 250-410 miles beneath the surface—slows seismic waves. Areas where seismic waves travel faster are thought to hold less water.
Certain minerals in the mantle can incorporate water molecules into their structure. The Science study authors concluded that the thick, low-velocity zones must represent hydrated minerals. Earlier research already found a hydrated mineral trapped inside a diamond that formed at great depth, as well as hydrated moon-rock minerals.2,3 The volume of water within the top of Earth’s lower mantle minerals would yield enough water to form entire new oceans. Who would have thought there was that much water so far below our feet?
These mantle waters could represent residual waters “of the great deep” that burst through the crust and onto Earth’s surface to initiate Noah’s year-long Flood, according to Genesis 7:11. Although some may suggest other explanations for the water, it complements Scripture’s general reference to waters deep beneath the earth.
If this evidence supports the Bible, it also challenges textbook Earth-formation scenarios. Secularists face a tough enough challenge in trying to explain how oceans of water came from molten rock. They imagine hydrated minerals from space rocks collided to form Earth, but the heat from those collisions would have pushed out the water. Now they have to explain this newly discovered deep water origin in addition to the vast amount in the world’s surface oceans.
Biblical scientists do not arbitrarily discount miracles, so they remain open to the possibility that God placed all this water on and in the earth just how He described it.
- Schamndt, B. et al. 2014. Dehydration melting at the top of the lower mantle. Science. 344 (6189): 1265-1268.
- Thomas, B. Water Deep in Earth’s Mantle. Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org April 4, 2014, accessed June 23, 2014.
- Thomas, B. Water in Rocks May Support Moon’s Bible Origins. Creation Science Update. Posted on icr.org September 25, 2013, accessed June 23, 2014.
- See Genesis 1:1 and 2 Peter 3:5.
*Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on June 27, 2014.