Headlines in the popular press and science journals have been screaming the claim since January: “Planet Earth makes its own water from scratch deep in the mantle.”
The claim, based on a new computer modeling study that suggests massive reserves of water, presumably fresh, have been produced by the planet itself – possibly more than is found in the world’s oceans – is sensational enough.
The news reports were all based on a study published by Earth and Planetary Science Letters based on new research by Zdenek Futera at the University College Dublin in Ireland and several collaborators. It backs up previous work by others published in 2014 in the Scientific American and the theory known as “primary water.”
“It’s actually the confirmation that there is a very, very large amount of water that’s trapped in a really distinct layer in the deep Earth,” said Graham Pearson, lead author of the 2014 study and a geochemist at the University of Alberta in Canada. “It translates into a very, very large mass of water, approaching the sort of mass of water that’s present in all the world’s oceans.”
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The controversy, however, is over how the water got there, since it is inconceivable it could have dripped beneath the heavy rock layer above it from the surface. That leaves evolutionary scientists with a problem.
They have theorized that water came to the planet aboard asteroids and comets to fill the surface oceans, rivers and streams – making life possible.
But how does one explain oceans deep within the Earth’s surface?
The latest studies have attempted to explain that problem with complex formulas that suggest the Earth itself is making the water – from scratch.
If true, the news would be startlingly good for an increasingly fresh-water-starved world.
While about 71 percent of the Earth is covered with water, 96.5 percent of it is saline and undrinkable ocean water. Surface water is constantly being recycled through evaporation and rainfall. Even the water we use from wells is recycled as part of this process.
But if, as more scientific studies suggest is correct, “primary water” deep beneath the mantle or crust of the Earth exceeds the amount found in all the planet’s oceans, there is hardly a shortage, especially if it can be brought to the surface through natural processes, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, or through deep-well drilling.
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Few in the scientific community have questioned the notion that the Earth can actually create water.
But, at least one, Andrew Snelling, a Ph.D geologist from Australia who serves as director of research for Answers in Genesis, thinks the idea is desperate theorizing by secular scientists who understand the massive water find threatens evolution.
“It is ironic that secularist scientists are still seeking to explain where the Earth’s water came from.” he writes. “For many years now they have endeavored to fill in the difficult-to-explain pieces of their ‘story’ about how our home Earth ‘just happened’ to become so habitable for life over the course of its supposed billions-of-years history. Secularists believe the Earth condensed from clumpy matter flung out of the solar nebula 4.56 or so billion years ago. It was thus originally a hot molten blob that cooled. They used to suggest that most of the water came from inside this cooling Earth, but not enough to fill the oceans we have on the Earth’s surface today. A once popular theory was that comets (which are essentially large, dirty snowballs) collided with the Earth and deposited their water on its surface.”
That explanation, he says, could not possibly account for the oceans of water deep beneath the surface of the planet. With the new evidence for just that, a new explanation was needed, Snelling suggests.
“Of course, these same secularists and Bible skeptics say, as predicted in 2 Peter 3:3–6, that there never was a global flood on the Earth, even though it is still 70 percent covered in water, which averages more than two miles deep,” writes Snelling. “But ironically, they also say that, due to the many evidences of massive water erosion on Mars, there was a watery flood ‘of Biblical proportions’ on that planet in the past, even though that planet’s surface is dry today!”
Snelling sees the recent studies as clear evidence of the biblical Flood account. He points to Genesis 7:11, where the Bible says that on the day the Flood began “were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”
“The Bible’s description of that outbursting event is merely confirmed by the latest findings of the secular scientists,” he writes.