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SFI-funded research group propose origin of water from within Earth’s mantle

Research carried out under the direction of Professor Niall English in the SFI-funded Materials, Energy and Water Simulations (MEWS) research group In UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, has indicated that water on Earth may have originated within its mantle.

A recent article published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters (January 2017), detailed a model proposed by Dr Zdenek Futera and Profesor English, along with colleagues at the University of Saskatchewan, which gives greater clarity to water-formation mechanisms in Earth’s mantle via chemical reaction of high-pressure hydrogen with quartz-silica.

Results of the study, which involved simulations of high-pressure hydrogen in contact with silica, showed real-time hydrogen penetration and chemical reaction to form water within the quartz structure. The findings corroborate and build upon experiments carried out by Japanese researchers in 2014 and may explain deep tremors and seismic activity, challenging theories that water arrived on Earth via comets.

The finding was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a leading journal for researchers across the Earth and planetary sciences community and also in the New Scientist