Ancient Volcanic Rocks Shed Light On Origins Of Earth's Water: Here Are Other Interesting Facts About Water


The Earth is made up of two-thirds water, but where does it all come from? The exact origin of water continues to baffle the scientific community. Was it present when the planet formed or was it carried to the planet by meteorites?

Led by cosmochemist Dr. Lydia Hallis, researchers from the University of Hawaii (UH) were successful in putting the rumors to rest. Using a cutting-edge ion-microprobe instrument, they analyzed sample volcanic rocks retrieved from Canada's Baffin Island in 1985 and found evidence in the hydrogen to deuterium ratio that proves water's existence during the planet's formation.

"We found that the (mantle) water had very little deuterium, which strongly suggests that it was not carried to Earth after it had formed and cooled," said Hallis.

Now that the water origin debate has been put to rest, what exactly have humans done to that water?

Seventy percent of the planet is covered in water — a volume of about 1.4 billion cubic kilometers (approximately between 332 million and 335 million cubic miles), with most of it found in the planet's oceans. Fresh water in the planet is around 2.5 percent, a fact that prompts scientists to come up with more cost-efficient ways to filter seawater and make it drinkable.

Sadly, approximately 70 percent of the world's industrial waste is discarded in bodies of water, contaminating what could be used as water supply. In China alone, there are about 320 million people without access to safe drinking water. About 20 percent of China's groundwater is used for drinking, despite being highly polluted with carcinogenic chemicals.

In Bangladesh, ground water is laced with arsenic, a toxic chemical present in approximately 85 percent of the country's total area. In the U.S., 46 percent of lakes and 40 percent of rivers are considered unfit for aquatic life, fishing and swimming due to pollutants.

The 2011 tsunami incident in Japan left a 70-kilometer (43-mile) island of floating debris in the Pacific Ocean, which is also home to about 11 million liters of radioactive water dumped by the Japanese government following the natural disaster.

Toxic chemicals from industrial activities get into the ocean by seeping through oil, land and water from their operations or during accidental leakages. When industrial chemicals get into ocean water, they leave contaminants as they travel long distances. Animal- and plant-based foods get contaminated by the polluted water. Contaminated food can, in turn, affect consumers, causing serious health problems such as cancer.

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