A huge well of molten carbon that would spell disaster for the planet if released has been found under the US.
Scientists using the world’s largest array of seismic sensors have mapped a deep-Earth area, covering 700,000 sq miles (1.8 million sq km).
This is around the size of Mexico, and researchers say it has the potential to cause untold environmental damage.
The discovery could change our understanding of how much carbon the Earth contains, suggesting it is much more than we previously believed.
Scientists uncovered a huge reservoir of molten carbon situated under the Western US, 217 miles (350km) beneath the Earth’s surface
It would be impossible to drill far enough down to physically ‘see’ the Earth’s mantle, so a team of researchers used a massive group of sensors to paint a picture of it, using mathematical equations to interpret their results.
The study, conducted by geologists at Royal Holloway University in London, used a huge network of 583 seismic sensors that measure the Earth’s vibrations, to create a picture of the area’s deep sub surface.
Known as the upper mantle, this section of the Earth’s interior is known for by its high temperatures where solid carbonates melt, creating distinctive seismic patterns.
What they found was a vast buried deposit of molten carbon, which produces carbon dioxide and other gases, situated under the Western US, 217 miles (350km) beneath the Earth’s surface.
As a result of this study, published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, scientists now believe the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s upper mantle may be up to 100 trillion metric tons.
In comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the global carbon emission in 2011 was nearly 10 billion metric tons – a tiny amount in comparison.
The deep carbon reservoir discovered will eventually make its way to the surface through volcanic eruptions and contribute to climate change albeit very slowly, but a sudden release could have dire consequences.post was originally published on this site