Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Huge Reservoir Discovered Beneath Asia 273

anthemaniac writes "Seismic observations reveal a huge reservoir of water in Earth's mantle beneath Asia. It's actually rock saturated with water, but it's an ocean's worth of water ... as much as is in the whole Arctic Ocean. How did it get there? A slab of water-laden crust sank, and the water evaporated out when it was heated, and then it was trapped, the thinking goes. The discovery fits neatly with the region's heavy seismic activity and fits neatly with the idea that the planet's moving crustal plates are lubricated with water."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Huge Reservoir Discovered Beneath Asia

Comments Filter:
  • Venus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:20PM (#18190298) Journal
    The discovery fits neatly with the region's heavy seismic activity and fits neatly with the idea that the planet's moving crustal plates are lubricated with water."

    This may explain why Venus, a planet of similar size, appears to have a very different resurfacing mechanism. Venus's surface appears to "explode" once roughly every half-a-billion years, and then stay mellow until the next cycle. Thus, pressure probably builds up until a giant venusquake is eminant and kabam! Water on Earth appearently provides some lubrication such that the pressure is releived relatively gradually in comparison.
  • Usefulness? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:23PM (#18190306)
    So TFA states that there is good chance of there being lots of water beneath the crust in Asia. Okay, so that's water cooler ( pun intended) material.

    What would make it truly interesting (to non-seismologists) would be if that water were fresh (i.e. drinkable) and accessible (so it could be used as a drinking water supply).

    - RG>
  • Re:Usefulness? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Edis Krad ( 1003934 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:29PM (#18190352)
    I'm not really sure about this. The article also mentions that the water tends to dampen seismic waves (and some sort of tectonic plate lubricant). If you were to remove it, earthquakes could become disastrous.
  • Re:Venus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:31PM (#18190366) Homepage
    Water cant prevent all pressure build up. canoes.shtml []
  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:47PM (#18190494) Journal

    Genesis 7:11-12
    In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.

    I see your snarky comment and raise it one Interesting one.
  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @11:49PM (#18190500) Journal
    And they WILL use this. In a video about how the Grand Canyon was formed in the Flood, they interview a U.S.G.S. scientist and he says "During the miocene there was a huge lake in north eastern Arizona", without mentioning that the miocene ended 5 million years ago.
  • by karmic_penguin ( 845053 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:13AM (#18190632)
    No, couldn't still be down there from the moon-forming impact (we're talking ~4.5 *billion* years ago). It would have made the entire surface of the earth molten and evaporated any water that was already there. If you read the article it explains that this was probably produced by compaction and heating of an H2O-rich oceanic plate after it was subducted under the continental plate. Seems like a plausible explanation, no?
  • by nido ( 102070 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {65odin}> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:23AM (#18190680) Homepage
    The discovery fits neatly ... with the idea that the planet's moving crustal plates are lubricated with water."

    I'm a fan of the Abiogenic theory of oil []. This theory holds that crude oil does NOT come from 'dinosaurs' and swamps, but from some other source in the Earth system. IANACG (crackpot geologist), but I think crude oil is just a part of the earth's carbon cycle. Carbon gets sequestered in the ocean (coral/etc), said carbon gets submerged into the mantle, and millions/billions of years later gets transformed into oil, through one mechanism or another. See the 'proposed mechanism' section of above-linked page for details.

    Could this story's 'water' patch also be a patch of oil? Oil would lubricate the crust much better than water, I think.

    In light of this overview, hydrocarbon economies are bad not because of Carbon Dioxide, but because we're draining our planet of its lubrication. This is probably a Bad Thing - I expect some major seismic activity in the next 50-1000 years.
  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:41AM (#18190782)
    The vast majority of sea life is VERY sensitive to the salinity of the water they live in. The sudden addition of fresh water would dilute the salt water to about 1/7 or 1/8 and would have either directly or indirectly killed all sea-life, completely destroying the only ecosystem left.
  • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:21AM (#18191376)
    Well, the US is pretty damn big and has a large population. In terms of raw power, the US is pretty damn hard to top. That said, there are some Eastern European nations like Estonia who are really toying around with some truly alternative forms of government. While I doubt Estonia is ever going to drop the US to its knees, it could very well wield the power of a nation like Japan... which is not bad for a little Eastern European country that is smaller then most US states.

    The big countries that have the mass to match the US pound for pound really just don't have their shit together. Western European nations are in the process of shedding off more population then they can afford to dump due to low population growth and low immigration. Europe is going into a death phase and their social system is not changing to keep up with the shifting demographics. The leaders of EU see the problem and are trying to get their shit together, but the people of Europe really want nothing to do with it. Sadly, due to the EU's current structure it only takes one nation to throw the wrench into the gears of reform. I am deeply skeptical that the EU is going to pull itself together and deal with the challenges facing it.

    China, India, and Russia while certainly having the man power to be rivals to the US, but really are too shackled with government control, bureaucracy, and corruption to ever hope to match the US in the next few decades. They are just too big and massive to change direction. Nothing short of a political revolution can fix these nations.

    The Middle East is FAR too socially dysfunctional to even dream of matching the US. They will be lucky to make it through the next decade or two without suffering the collapse of multiple governments and a genocide or three.

    Africa, while mostly screwed up, does have some bright spots of hope. They are very much behind the rest of the world, but so was Korea, Taiwan, and Japan for much of history. That said, they really have the deck stacked against them, and most of Africa is such a mess that they stand little chance of getting a toe hold in the world economy.

    The only nation that can take down the US is the US. The US could very well find itself in a death cycle with unadaptive social programs like Western Europe under the right conditions. Some might argue that the US is inching its way in that direction, but at the pace it is going, it is going to be a long time before the US gets there.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @02:25AM (#18191396) Journal

    In light of this overview, hydrocarbon economies are bad not because of Carbon Dioxide, but because we're draining our planet of its lubrication. This is probably a Bad Thing - I expect some major seismic activity in the next 50-1000 years.
    Draining our planet of lubrication?
    Are you serious?
    Oil wells go down ~7 miles tops.
    Earthquakes' points of origin are much much deeper than that.

    From the U.S. Geological Survey

    FAQ - Earthquakes, Faults, Plate Tectonics, Earth Structure:
    Q: Can we cause earthquakes? Is there any way to prevent earthquakes? []
    Short answer: Yes, as a result of fluid injection into wells. No

    Common Myths about Earthquakes:
    Can you prevent large earthquakes by making lots of small ones, or by "lubricating" the fault with water or another material? []
    Short answer: No & yes, but it would be a bad idea.

    Soo.... we can cause earthquakes by injecting fluids into wells, but I've never heard that removing fluids from a well can cause an earthquake.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:14AM (#18191588) Journal
    Actually, the mineral wealth is what allowed America to remain at the top as long as we have. Basically, we had low costs minerals. Transportation on copper, oil, and iron are expensive. But if you can transport just a short ways, then you lower your manufactuering costs a great deal. Some have pointed out Japan as being the powerhouse without mineral wealth, but they have pushed to have high quality goods. SK Took over the low end stuff and now is pushing into higher end products. That means that China has the low end (read crappy) products with very low quality. It is improving, but it will be decades before that happens. In the mean time, they now have assess to low costs mineral AND are trying to ship as much of other minerals to china as possible. Basically, they are trying to increase the costs for other manufactuers, namely USA, Japan, and EU. Smart on their part

    But yeah, I agree that China has some MAJOR issues that will be coming at them. But the difference in sex is less of a problem for china. As you pointed out, that lots of single men tend to be agressive (think of the west or even of alaska). That can be hard on a society. But historically, nations have harnessed that into armies and invaded other nations. In particular, they do so to take a resource, such as an island, water, iron or copper. Of course, some just go after oil.
  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:41AM (#18191696)

    What's interesting is that that passage uses the Hebrew word "eretz", which gets translated as "earth" in all (English) translations I've seen. Now, "earth" in itself is a very generic term, and does not NECESSARILY mean "the planet Earth". And "eretz" could also be translated as "land", "country", "ground" etc.

    So the choice is up to the translator, and if you have 2 millennia's worth of tradition (which was based on incomplete knowledge), it is quite hard to break free of the mould.

    It is certainly possible that the Noah flood was a localized event, without invalidating the Scriptures (as seen in the original language).

  • by bremstrong ( 523910 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:48AM (#18191722)
    Over the life of the Earth, it seems the water would slowly disappear into the crust as the ocean plates are subducted.

    If it is in a steady state, where is the water coming back out?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2007 @05:37AM (#18192054)
    No one seems to have mentioned the UK. In terms of size it's not that dissimilar with Estonia, but it has a track record of running most of the world.

    I reckon that running the world is more about leadership than raw power, and we're finding that out the hard way at the moment.

    We managed to suppress Britain for a long time after WW2 - hell, we even charged them for it, and they've only just finished paying that off. But they still punch above their weight internationally. If they were to get together with Canada, Australia and India - historical partners - that would be one heck of a power block; brains and brawn.

    We might even return to the fold if the option was being subordinate to a China/Russia axis. I think we have learned that a constitutional monarch would be cheaper, more impressive, and less dangerous than a President!
  • The Deepest Hole (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nephridium ( 928664 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @06:04AM (#18192158)
    This is reminiscent of an article [] I read about the deepest drilling endeavor ever put forth. While the scientists' educated guess was that the rock material would turn to basalt at around 3-4km in actuality they were confronted with metamorphic rock filled with water! According to the scientists the water might have formed out of O and H atoms "squeezed" out of the surrounding rock and having no way to escape - this would mean it would actually be drinkable water. Furthermore they found large amounts of hydrogen gas contained in the crust which could alleviate some of our energy concerns once we put more effort into hydrogen fuel cell [] research.

    I wonder what else mother earth has in store for us considering we only scratched the surface - the drill hole went down to 12km while the earth's radius is more than 6000km..
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:53AM (#18194710) Journal
    Here's an interesting theory along those lines. [] Synopsis: Glaciation ends, rivers stop feeding the Black Sea (which was the Black Freshwater Lake at the time), evaporation and rising sea levels put it well below sea level. Waters in the Mediterranean overflow the Bosporus. Ten cubic miles of water flow into the Black Sea per day for at least three hundred days.

    So we have a huge flood, in the right part of the world, at around the right time for the ancestors of the Jewish people to remember it and write about it in the old testament. And a possible reason Deluge mythology is so universal. A waterfall two hundred times the size of Niagra Falls flooding 60,000 square miles of previously settled land might be something you'd tell your grandkids about.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:02PM (#18194836)
    Fine, but you have to imagine the frustration some poeple feel when they are talking to people who think that 2000 years ago people turned into glass boxes full of light and fire, burning bushes talked, snakes talked, people walked on water, people were raised from the dead, etc. Why is the world we live in fundamentally different today? If a single one of these things happened, I would have to drastically rethink my world view. But nothing like this ever happens, so I'd have to take any religion on a "say-so". I just can't honestly intellectually do that, so what am I to do? Isn't *a more likely explanation of the bible* that it was written in a superstitious time by people with their own political agendas? Is the alternative *really more likely in your mind*?
  • It is certainly possible that the Noah flood was a localized event, without invalidating the Scriptures (as seen in the original language).
    Except that has a different issue with Genesis 7:17-23 [] - "They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet." (versus 19 & 20 specifically quoted here)

    How exactly do you cover "all the high mountains" and not cover the entire earth?

    If, in fact, a hill or mountain, etc keeps the water from spilling over onto another area of land, then in fact not all the high mountains have been covered. In other words, everything would have had to be covered in order to qualify, thus the context puts the word "eretz" as translating to the largest, most vast sense of the word, making it a globalized event.

    For reference, here's an alternative [] translation. I am not familiar with how accurate the translation is - but it is an alternative to the 'norm'. Someone who can understand hebrew could verify how literal it is. Since it is from 1898 [], it seems to have withstood the 'test of time'.
  • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @03:22PM (#18197666) Journal
    Interesting. The second translation is a relatively accurate translation (I referenced the on-line linear translation at [] to compare the original hebrew (and their translation), to the second one you referenced.

    You're right about the idea that the flood is described as "And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered." (Genesis 7:19)

    I will add however that the previous poster is also right that the word used in the original hebrew to describe what is covered is Eretz, which is usually translated as "Land" (for instance "Eretz Yisroel" i.e. "the Land of Israel). The verse COULD be interpreted as referring to the land, literally the ground/earth, I could see the extension to translating that as "the Earth" (capital "E"), however the idea of it being tied to a relatively localized event does not seem in contradiction to the original text.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's