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Study Reveals More Water in the Earth’s Interior Than Expected

Shen weisen18web
Weisen Shen, PhD
Weisen Shen, PhD

STONY BROOK, NY, November 19, 2018 – A study of the seismic structure beneath the Mariana Trench by a team of researchers from Stony Brook University and Washington University indicates that about three or four times more water is dragged deep into the earth’s interior than previously thought. Their findings, published in Nature, give some new insight for scientists to re-evaluate the global water cycle and how water moves into and out of the earth’s interior.

Weisen Shen, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Stony Brook University, and whose work involved using a novel tool to transfer raw seismic records into images that the team could use to estimate water amounts, explains that the finding is important to understanding water cycling of the earth. He says that assessing large-scale, long-term tectonics contributes significantly to global water cycling, which has been difficult to quantify precisely.

To conduct the study, researchers listened to one year’s worth of Earth’s rumblings (from ambient noise to remote earthquakes) using a network of 19 ocean-bottom seismographs across the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean trench in the world located near China and Japan in the western Pacific Ocean. They extracted the hidden information into images of the down-going Pacific plate near the trench – an imaging process similar to a CT scan.

For more about the research and the findings, see this news release.

The research is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation.

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with nearly 26,000 students and more than 2,700 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long Island’s economic growth. Its impact on the  Long Island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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