Weird stuff – type VII water ice found inside diamonds

Unique diamond impurities indicate water deep in Earth’s mantle

Scientific analysis of diamond impurities — known as inclusions — reveal naturally forming ice crystals and point to water-rich regions deep below the Earth’s crust


A UNLV scientist has discovered the first direct evidence that fluid water pockets may exist as far as 500 miles deep into the Earth’s mantle.

Groundbreaking research by UNLV geoscientist Oliver Tschauner and colleagues found diamonds pushed up from the Earth’s interior had traces of unique crystallized water called Ice-VII.

Ice VII structure – image from Martin Chaplan

The study, “Ice-VII inclusions in Diamonds: Evidence for aqueous fluid in Earth’s deep Mantle,” was published Thursday in the journal Science.

In the jewelry business, diamonds with impurities hold less value. But for Tschauner and other scientists, those impurities, known as inclusions have infinite value, as they may hold the key to understanding the inner workings of our planet.

For his study, Tschauner used diamonds found in China, the Republic of South Africa, and Botswana that surged up from inside Earth. “This shows that this is a global phenomenon,” the professor said.

Scientists theorize the diamonds used in the study, were born in the mantle under temperatures reaching more than 1,000-degrees Fahrenheit.

The mantle – which makes up more than 80 percent of the Earth’s volume – is made of silicate minerals containing iron, aluminum, and calcium among others.

And now we can add water to the list.

The discovery of Ice-VII in the diamonds is the first known natural occurrence of the aqueous fluid from the deep mantle. Ice-VII had been found in prior lab testing of materials under intense pressure. Tschauner also found that while under the confines of hardened diamonds found on the surface of the planet, Ice-VII is solid. But in the mantel, it is liquid.

“These discoveries are important in understanding that water-rich regions in the Earth’s interior can play a role in the global water budget and the movement of heat-generating radioactive elements,” Tschauner said.

This discovery can help scientists create new, more accurate models of what’s going on inside the Earth, specifically how and where heat is generated under the Earth’s crust.

In other words: “It’s another piece of the puzzle in understanding how our planet works,” Tschauner said.

Of course, as it often goes with discoveries, this one was found by accident, explained Tschauner.

“We were looking for carbon dioxide,” he said. “We’re still looking for it, actually,”


The study:

There are actually 17 different forms of ice:

75 thoughts on “Weird stuff – type VII water ice found inside diamonds

  1. So all ingredients for the formation of hydrocarbons are present at high pressure and temperature. May be our “fossil fuels” are generated there on a continous bases and we still have to wait a bit longer for “peak oil”.

  2. That picture of ice VII is not correct. There are too many hydrogens per oxygen.
    Every oxygen should have net two, not net four.
    And ice VII does not have those intermolecular H—H interactions. The correct interactions are all H—O.
    Here is a correct picture of ice VII.

    • And radioactive elements are concentrated in the crust, and observably absent the mantle, due differenciation during earth’s formation (from inclusion analysis no less). So why is this atticle going on about radioactive heating in the mantle? Rubbish.
      Plus water in the upper mantle has been proposed in igneous melt genesis since at least the 1950s, and water inclusions in mantle derived xenoliths have been observed and well known for at least that long too.
      The diamond ice is kinda interesting, but the text of the article is nothing new, hyped and bs-ing.

      • Because there is some radioactive decay in the mantle. However, radioactive decay in the crust and mantle can only account for about half of the heat flow…

        What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth’s magnetic field? Heat. Geologists have used temperature measurements from more than 20,000 boreholes around the world to estimate that some 44 terawatts (44 trillion watts) of heat continually flow from Earth’s interior into space. Where does it come from?
        Radioactive decay of uranium, thorium, and potassium in Earth’s crust and mantle is a principal source, and in 2005 scientists in the KamLAND collaboration, based in Japan, first showed that there was a way to measure the contribution directly. The trick was to catch what KamLAND dubbed geoneutrinos – more precisely, geo-antineutrinos – emitted when radioactive isotopes decay. (KamLAND stands for Kamioka Liquid-scintillator Antineutrino Detector.)
        KamLAND scientists have now published new figures for heat energy from radioactive decay in the journal Nature Geoscience. Based on the improved sensitivity of the KamLAND detector, plus several years’ worth of additional data, the new estimate is not merely “consistent” with the predictions of accepted geophysical models but is precise enough to aid in refining those models.
        One thing that’s at least 97-percent certain is that radioactive decay supplies only about half the Earth’s heat. Other sources – primordial heat left over from the planet’s formation, and possibly others as well – must account for the rest.
        I agree the water inclusions are interesting, but not as surprising as the headlines indicate.

      • Do enjoy the read of colleague John Elliston’s book, just released on unsuspecting earth scientists, about colloids and petrogenesis and why it is hard to imagine molten granite when cooler colloids will do it. Geoff

      • primordial heat left over from the planet’s formation,
        based on rate of heat loss lord kelvin calculated the earth to be 9000 years old.
        clearly this cannot explain the. missing 1\2.
        sorry of like climate science cannot explain why. 1/2 of humans produced co2 each year disappears. why is. the sink rate tied to annual production, not to cumulative production. physically makes no sense.

      • “why is. the sink rate tied to annual production, not to cumulative production. physically makes no sense.”
        Indeed, it does not. One can only achieve it by making some rather unlikely assumptions about the CO2 cycle.

      • Ferd,
        Kelvin calculated that earth was tens of millions of years old, based upon its heat loss.

    • I agree with you, something is wrong with that picture. But if you go to the page you linked and you scroll down, you will see a second picture of ice VII very similar to the one posted above.
      It may be that the white balls represent either hydrogens or lone pairs of electrons. As you know, the oxygen of a water molecule has 2 hydrogens and 2 lone pairs of electrons. The interactions we see are not H-H but H-lone pair. It is just very confusing that both H and lone pairs of electrons are represented with balls of same color.
      But even if both are colored in white, the lengths of the bars connecting the balls should be different. The O-lone pair length should be shorter than the O-H length. So, yes, it is not clear.

      • You’re right, Urederra, the excess white spheres could be lone pairs. But then the representation is confusing and even misleading.
        The mode of drawing isn’t explained, and any chemist would recognize the incorrect representation.
        The site owner, Prof. Martin Chaplin, is a trained chemist, so I don’t understand how he let the structural confusion get by him.

    • My understanding of that Ice VII illustration is showing that every H2O molecule has two sides of a covalent bonded hydrogen ( s orbitals) and two sides of election domains coming off of the central atom oxygen ( p orbitals) However, it is no longer in a tetrahedral shape so it was a new geometrical shape and a new name.

      • No it’s not, Anthony. There’s a structural problem with the way the molecules are represented in the head figure.
        The problem is not your fault, but it’s nevertheless present.

      • I think the diagram may be designed to express the dynamic nature of the location of the protons which are mobile enough to be found at either site. The site linked to, uses words to that effect, or so I interpret the words:

        “All molecules experience identical molecular environments. The hydrogen bonding is disordered and constantly changing as in hexagonal ice…”

        Thus the diagram referred to is actually titled as

        Partial structure of ice VII showing interstitial sites

      • I understand, Michael. But all the molecules are symmetrical, every oxygen is tetravalent.
        Dotty bonds are drawn from one hydrogen across to a nearby hydrogen, as though there were a weak bonding interaction between them.
        The picture doesn’t make sense and does not convey the description you quoted.

      • It makes sense to me, Pat. The extra protons are drawn in, not because they are there, but because the ones that are there dynamically oscillate between the two positions (too fast for the detection technique to unambiguously capture them at either location), and the diagram is intended to honestly convey that. I’m struggling for another way to explain what you think you see.

      • Michael, dotty bonds between hydrogens do not imply positional oscillation.
        Double-headed arrows might imply oscillation between positions, but the pictured structure doesn’t have them.

      • “Pat Frank March 11, 2018 at 10:19 pm
        I know that, AtheoK, but presence of that picture doesn’t change the concern”

        My apologies for being late to the party with a repetitive statement.
        Your version is defined by absolutism.
        Absolutes are not appropriate for theoretical physical states at non-ambient Earth conditions. Laboratory research can only simulate transient states at minor axis points in a range of extreme conditions.

      • The phase diagram you posted, AtheoK, has no bearing on the fact that the structure shown in the head post is either outright wrong or is very misleading.
        Noting an error is not absolutism. It’s noting an error.

  3. Water planet all the way down…
    A Rare Earth indeed. Why would anyone want to live on Mars or the Moon?

    • Why would anyone want to live on Mars or the Moon?

      For the same reason they would want to live in an untamed wilderness.
      Mostly to get away from bureaucrats and people who think what they believe need to be believed by everyone else.

      • Also because Elon Musk wants to give you a subsidized ticket to ride?
        Of course he already does that with Tesla, but his horizons are not earthly.
        Here he is, still talking about pizza joints on Mars, and admitting his companies nearly went bankrupt.
        Neither him nor the BBC admit that at least one of those companies (Tesla) still will go bankrupt unless the taxpayer rides to the rescue again. But he does hint at the truth with “However, he said that over time, he felt Tesla had caused him far “more drama” than SpaceX.”

  4. “We were looking for carbon dioxide,” he said. “We’re still looking for it, actually,”

    The Magic Molecule™️ strikes again. Funny that diamonds are simply evil carbon pollution in a climateer’s world.

  5. “Scientists theorize the diamonds used in the study, were born in the mantle under temperatures reaching more than 1,000-degrees Fahrenheit.”
    This sentence should not have a comma.

  6. Does this have anything to do with polywater?– supposedly another one of Russia’s hoaxes intended for western scientists to waste their time on a pathological science.

  7. Reservoirs of water at great depth? I read an allusion to something like that in the early chapters of Genesis. Oh right, the consensus is that any story from there is a myth. And whenever there is a consensus, it must be right, so damn the deniers.

  8. Surprising amounts of free water were found in the “Kola Superdeep” drilling in the eighties down to 12 kilometers depth.

    • “Surprising amounts of free water were found in the “Kola Superdeep” drilling in the eighties down to 12 kilometers depth’. And that water was suffused with hydrogen.

  9. The presence, or absence, of water in the mantle has a significant impact on how easily the rock deforms and therefore on plate tectonics . That’s what I was taught in A level geology thirty odd years ago anyhow.

  10. I have dozens of double-terminated quartz crystals that contain liquid inclusions. This does not seem to be a very uncommon thing. Quartz being both more abundant and lots less costly, why not test this water?

    • “I have dozens of double-terminated quartz crystals that contain liquid inclusions.” The opacity of milky quartz is due to liquid inclusions … lots of them.

    • I thought quartz formed when super heated water began to cool allowing the minerals dissolved in it to precipitate out.
      If that’s the case, both the pressures and temperatures are going to be much lower for quartz than for diamonds.

  11. ‘The discovery of Ice-VII in the diamonds is the first known natural occurrence of the aqueous fluid from the deep mantle.’
    It remains ice at room temperature and pressure?

    • Because of the nature of a diamond, the pressure being exerted on the ice is the same as when the diamond formed.
      I read the article two days ago, but I believe it said that one of the properties of ice-VII is that it remains crystalline remains even as temperature increases.

  12. Maybe ppl should really start considering seriously that Mendeleev table consist of only elements not substances….Thus for the terminology problem of substances could be accepted up to some point, but not so much as per the elements, no any room there for such as.
    Iron happens to be an element and not a substance as per the comparing case of H2O or dimonds…therefor when there some allowance for a terminology mess up in absence of a periodic table of substances , like water VII or whatever, no so much room there for the elements, like for Iron, as Iron part of an elements element.
    Iron VII or Iron VIII or X does not really exist, as if it could be considered as such, according to Mendeleev will happen to be just another element, not Iron….as per the elements table…
    So a condition of molten Iron consist also as a condition of another element in a solid form, like Iron VIII molten happens simply to be another element in a solid hard frozen form….
    So which is which when considering terminology! And the science of the molten Iron core of Earth!
    Iron can not be actually considered as Iron VIII or X, unless it is considered as another element, in a different energy balance, not in a molten form….what so ever…
    I know this makes no much sense…:) but hey what actually does!
    The terminology problem in the case of this strange “water” does not really apply to Iron….
    Iron is an element, any elevation from that stage means another element form.
    No much chance there of a Iron molten sphere at the center of our Earth….
    Start considering the contradictory terminology of this “strange water VIII”,,,, it does not really apply to Iron, as Iron happens to be an element…..and that is where such new evidence points out even strongly that there could not be an molten Iron core at the Earth center….
    Really sorry if this being so confusing….

      • In the periodic table of elements there is no Ice or even H2O…..therefor technically in terminology you end up with water VII which in “normal” is Ice, hard solid state, water VII not liquid. problematic terminology.
        Iron liquid can not be in a stable normal mode, huge huge energy to maintain it in that state of liquid, and if considering pressure involved in such as, you end up with something like “Iron VII”, solid state “Iron”, which actually will happen to be another element higher in the periodic table of elements, normalized but not Iron anymore.
        Iron is an element, no molecular structure…
        A condition that confuses the terminology with substances, is not that problematic with elements

  13. I’ll quibble here… at those temperatures and pressures, water does not exist as a “liquid” it is a supercritical fluid.

  14. This creates many questions in my mind.
    Just what happens to water as it is subducted into the core along with the subduction of the tectonic plates? Seems to me that just like you can make Dry CO2 Ice you could be making “Dry H2O Ice.” Does water act like CO2 and turn into the equivalent of Dry Ice when cold enough and under enough pressure? Dry Ice can also be made by taking the liquid CO2 and rapidly lowering the pressure, causing further cooling and then resulting in solid Dry Ice. Surely this can also happen to water in space. Which one of the 17 (+) phases of H2O Ice would be created this way. Which of the many phases of H2) Ice are on many, some, any of the comets in space?

  15. David Middleton:
    What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? : Courage.
    What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth’s magnetic field?: Courage.

  16. David Middleton:
    What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? : Courage.
    What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth’s magnetic field?: Courage.

  17. When I hear that there can be some kind of special ice in uranus I’m like
    Sorry for the stupidity level, I read too much about transgendrism lately

  18. “The transition zone [where the diamonds were formed] is a region where the stable minerals have high water storage capacity. The inclusions suggest that local aqueous pockets form at the transition zone boundary owing to the release of chemically bound water as rock cycles in and out of this region.

    I was going to say something similar, but then found that the article had already said it. It makes the discovery, correctly, appear rather more prosaic than headlines. And they were looking for such things there, because they expected to find them there.

Comments are closed.