Thursday, November 18, 2021

Superionic ice, possibly existing inside some planets, discovered

A superionic ice-like phase of water at high temperature and pressure (20 gigaPascals but much less than the expected pressure, which is higher than 50 gigaPascals) has been discovered. See the popular article and the research article.

The bonds between hydrogen atoms and oxygen ions are broken in this phase and ionized hydrogen atoms form a fluid,a kind of proton ocean in which the oxygen lattice floats.

In the TGD framework dark proton sequences with effective Planck constant h_eff>h at monopole magnetic tubes play a key role in quantum biology. Dark DNA codons would be 3-proton triplets at monopole flux tubes parallel to DNA strands and would give rise to a fundamental realization of the genetic code.

One can wonder whether the protons of this superionic could be dark in the TGD sense and reside in monopole flux tubes. Could they form a superfluid-like or superconductor-like phase by a universal mechanism which I call Galois confinement, which requires that the total momenta of composites of dark protons with are algebraic integer valued momenta are ordinary integers in suitable units (periodic boundary conditions): see this and this.

It is conjectured that this kind phase could reside in the interiors of Neptune and Uranus perhaps even deep inside the Earth. The TGD based view about super-conductivity leads to a rather eye-brow raising question. Could the vanishing of large scale magnetic fields of planets like Venus and Mars be due to the TGD variant of the Meissner effect and could these planet interiors be superconductors in the TGD sense (see this)?

Could superionic ice appear in the interior of Earth? Could one consider the following scenario?

Primordial Earth had a vanishing magnetic field by the Meissner effect caused by superionic ice. Part of the superconducting superionic water melted and formed ordinary water at lower temperature and pressure and gave rise to underground oceans. Superconductivity was lost in the Earth scale but the monopole flux based magnetic field and the ordinary magnetic field induced by the currents that it generated remained but did not cancel each other anymore. In the transition increasing the radius of Earth by factor 2 during the Cambrian explosion the water in these oceans bursted to the surface of Earth.

Earthquakes that should not occur

There is an interesting finding, which seems to relate to the superionic ice. It has been discovered that there are earthquakes much deeper in the interior of Earth than expected (see this). These earthquakes are in the transition zone between upper and lower mantle and (the depth range 410-620 km) even below it (750 km). The pressure range is 20-25 GPa. The temperature at the base of the transition zone is estimated to be about 1900 K (see this). This parameter range inspires the question whether superionic ice could emerge at the base of the transition zone and whether the appearance of hydrogen as liquid in pores could make possible the earthquakes below the transition zone just as the presence of ordinary liquid in pores is believed to make them possible above the transition zone.

In the crust above 20 km depth the rocks are cold and brittle and prone to breaking and most earthquakes occur in this region. At deeper the rocks deform under high pressures and no breaking occurs. Deeper in the crust the matter is hotter and pressure higher and breaking does not occur easily.

Around a depth of 400 km, just above the transition zone, the upper mantle of the rock consists of olivine, which is brittle. In the transition zone olivine is believed to transform to wadsleyite and at deeper depth ringwoodite. At 680 km, where the upper mantle ends, ringwoodite would transform to bridgmanite and periclase. The higher pressure phases are analogous to graphite, which deforms easily under pressure and does not break whereas olivine is analogous to diamond and is brittle.

One can understand the earthquakes down to 400 km near the upper boundary of the transition zone in terms of the model in which water in the proposed upper mantle is pushed away from the pores by pressure, which leads to breaking. Below this depth water is believed to be totally squeezed out from the pores so that mechanism does not work. The deepest reported earthquake occurs at a depth 750 km and looks mysterious. There are several proposals for its origin.

The area of Bonin island is a subduction zone and it has been proposed that the boundary between upper and lower mantle is at a larger depth than thought. The cold Earth crust could allow a lower temperature so that matter would remain brittle since the transition to high pressure forms of rock would not occur. Another proposal is that the region considered is not homogenous and different forms of rock are present. Even direct transition of olivine to ringwoodite is possible and it has been suggested that this could make the earthquakes possible.

Could there be a connection between superionic ice and earthquakes?

TGD allows us to consider the situation from a new perspective by bringing in the notions of magnetic flux tubes carrying dark matter. Also the zero energy ontology (ZEO) might be highly relevant. The following represents innocent and naive questions of a layman at the general level.

  1. ZEO inspires the proposal that earthquakes correspond to "big" state function reductions (BSFRs) in which the arrow of time at the magnetic body of the system changes. This would explain the generation of ELF radiation before the earthquake although one would expect it after the earthquake (see this).

    The BSFRs would occur at quantum criticality and the question is what this quantum criticality corresponds to. Could the BSFR correspond to the occurrence of a phase transition in which the superionic ice becomes ordinary water? If this is the case, the transition zone, and also a region below it, would be near quantum criticality and prone to earthquakes.

  2. The dark magnetic flux tubes are 1-D objects and possess Hagedorn temperature TH as a limiting temperature. The heat capacity increases without limit as TH is approached. Could a considerable part of thermal energy go to the flux tube degrees of freedom so that the temperature of the ordinary matter would remain lower than expected and the material could remain in a brittle olivine form.
  3. Could the energy liberated in the earthquake correspond to the dark magnetic energy (for large enough value of heff assignable to gravitational magnetic flux tubes) assignable to the flux tubes rather than to the elastic energy of the rock material? Could the liberated energy be dark energy liberated as heff decreases and flux tubes suddenly shorten? Could this correspond to a phase transition in which superionic ice transforms to an ordinary phase of water?
One can also ask more concrete questions.
  1. Suppose that water below the transition zone (P> 20 GPa and T > 1900 K) can exist in superionic ice containing hydrogen ions in liquid form. Could the high pressure force the superionic liquid out from the pores and induce the breaking?
  2. In the range 350-655 km, the temperature varies in the range 1700-1900 K (see this). The temperature at the top of transition zones would be slightly above 1700 K. Could regions of superionic ice appear already at 1700 K, which is below T=2000 K?
  3. Could the transition zone be at criticality against the phase transition to superionic water? This idea would conform with the proposal that the region in question is not homogenous.

See the article Updated version of Expanding Earth model or the chapter Expanding Earth Model and Pre-Cambrian Evolution of Continents, Climate, and Life.

For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.

Articles and other material related to TGD.

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