Sunday, August 20, 2023

Does the existence of an underground ocean floor at the mantle-core boundary relate to underground life?

The popular article published in Futurism discussed an unexpected observation by the group led by Samantha Hansen published in Science (see this). The mantle-core boundary in the Earth's interior contains a layer that looks like the crust of Earth in the sense that the seismic perturbations propagating through it have an ultralow velocity. There are mountains many times higher than Himalaya! How is this possible? Is it possible in standard physics?

The answer of the article to this question is based on the idea that subduction for continental plates implies that part of them sinks down because they are denser than the surrounding material and gradually gather to form a second sea floor at the mantle-core boundary. To me this idea looks rather plausible but need not be correct.

My first reaction was the question whether this second sea floor could be a genuine seafloor, the seafloor of an underground ocean! Could new physics predicted by TGD make this possible?

  1. The basic prediction of the Expanding Earth hypothesis (see this) explaining Cambrian Explosion is that life evolved in underground oceans and bursted to the surface as the radius of Earth increased by factor 2 in a rapid expansion lasting about 30 million years (cosmic expansion would occurred as rapid jerks for astrophysical objects). During the last weeks several strange findings removing the most obvious objections against this vision have emerged.
  2. Could these mountains at the core-mantle boundary correspond to mountains of underground ocean floor?
Could the underground oceans have existed and carried life? Could they reside even in the extremely hostile environement at the mantle-core boundary?
  1. Underground oceans near the mantle-core boundary boundary could be imagined as a porous structure having water inside pores. Such structures are very common and if Earth's crust is formed from meteorites the water would be present from the beginning. Even biological matter is analogous to porous structure. When stone is heated it becomes a porous structure. Maybe the enormous heat flux from the core could cause porosity. In accordance with the standard vision of self-organization, this could be understood as complexity developing induced by a constant heat flux. Self-organization takes place at boundaries.
  2. It is known that huge reservoirs of water exist underground. The boundary between upper and lower mantle at a depth of about 500 km contains a porous structure carrying water (see this). If the size of the pores is large enough, considerably above cell size, advanced multicellulars could evolve in the underground oceans.
It is easy to invent lethal objections in the standard physics framework.
  1. The temperature and pressure increase as one goes towards the core. The temperature of pores should be around 40 C for life to survive. Also the pressure should be normal.
  2. Consider the crust first. The temperature reaches the values in the range 100-600 C at the crust-mantle boundary. The temperature increase is about 30 C per kilometer in the upper part of the crust and would be about 30 C at the depth of 1 km if it is 0 C at the surface. The underground water reservoirs should not be at depths much larger than 1 km if the standard physics applies and the largest depths would be possible near the poles.
  3. In the underground ocean at the boundary of the upper and lower mantle at a depth of about 500 km, the temperature and pressure are quite too high. Temperature of the surrounding solid material varies from 500 K at the lower boundary of the crust to 1200 K at the boundary of upper and lower mantle. Densities would be several times higher than the normal density of water.
  4. Temperature at the mantle-core boundary is about 3000 -4500 K and pressure 1.3 trillion times the atmospheric pressure. The density of mantle is by factor about 5-6 higher than the density of crust so that the pressure is really huge since water and solid matter are almost incompressible. Water in ordinary form cannot exist in this kind of environment if standard physics applies.
Could underground oceans allow some exotic phase of water at physiological temperature around 40 C and normal pressure? This is not possible for the water of standard physics. But the water in living matter is not normal!
  1. The phase of water discovered by Pollack, called fifth phase of water by Pollack himself (also the term "ordered water" is used). Pollack proposed it to be fundamental for life. Gel phases would represent a basic example of this water. This phase of water plays a key role in the TGD based model of living matter. The model identifies dark matter based as phases of ordinary matter with non-standard values of Planck constant. The gravitational Planck constant indeed has huge values.

    The underground life faces the same problem as the biological cell at the surface of Earth: how to isolate itself from the environment. The high temperatures and pressures make the problem orders of magnitudes more challenging. The fifth phase of water surrounding the system could provide the solution in the case of cell membrane and DNA double strand: develop a layer consisting of the fifth phase of water which shields the volume of the ordinary water from the environment at a different temperature.

    As a matter of fact, it has been discovered that ordinary water in air develops a thin molecular layer at its surface. This layer is neither water or ice and the identification as the fifth phase of water would be suggestive (see this). This layer could also work at nanoscales and reduce the freezing temperature of the lattice water in materials like concrete to about -70 C. The mechanism could be essentially thermal isolation. Could thermal isolation work also in high temperature environments, where underground life had to survive?

  2. Could the darkness of the ordered water make possible a situation in which the interactions of the water inside porese with the hot high pressure environment are very weak and heat and matter are not transferred between the solid environment and water. Thermal equilibrium would be established very slowly and the temperature could and pressure could be much lower than otherwise for very long periods.

    Magnetic bodies would carry the dark matter relevant for the biocontrol and would be shielded from the hot environment. They would be gradually heated and this would lead to biological death as it does in ordinary biology according to TGD. Zero energy ontology would however come in rescue and the change of arrow of time would reverse heating to cooling!

    The unpaired and their chemically non-inert valence electrons of biologically important ions should be dark and reside at the flux tubes associated with very long dark valence bonds. This would generate long range quantum coherence. This would explain why living matter contains these ions although thermal ionization is not possible at physiological temperatures. Also the protons of hydrogen bonds would be dark. Only the chemically inert full electron shells would remain and the system would remain and since be effectively thermally isolated from the hot environment. As a matter of fact, electrolytes involve ions and the mechanism of ionization is not actually understood and TGD suggest a mechanism of ionization based on the generation of dark valence electrons and dark protons (see this and this).

While preparing this article I learned that the standard view of Cambrian explosion has a problem with the Cambrian ocean temperature.
  1. If the oceans existed (not clear in the TGD framework before the Cambrian explosion!), their temperatures should have been around 60 C. Marine invertebrates do not however survive above 38 C.
  2. Isotopic estimates for Cambrian phosphatic brachiopods (see this) assuming no post-Cambrian O18 isotopic depletion relative to the recent concentration suggests that the temperatures of Cambrian oceans were in the range 35-41 C. This range is above the recent range 27-35 C. Assuming a O18 depletion of -3 promille of the early Cambrian sea water relative today, one can get Cambrian temperatures around 30 degrees.
  3. What could have caused the O18 depletion of Cambrian phosphatic brachiopods? Suppose that they evolved in underground oceans which bursted to the surface. Could the depletion be that for underground ocean water relative to the water in the recent oceans? The depletion would reflect different environments for the underground oceans and recent oceans. An alternative explanation is that there were non-oxygenated water reservoirs at the surface of Earth and the oxygenerate underground water was mixed with it. Also the surface of Mars, to which the surface of Earth before the Cambrian explosion is analogous, contains some water.
To conclude, I am not suggesting that life developed at the mantle-core boundary: this sound quite too science-fictive. Pole regions of the crust are the most conservative candidate for the seat of underground oceans. It is quite enough for the purposes of the Expanding Earth model that it developed in underground water reservoirs at depths of a few kilometers. Also in this case the thermal isolation from the environment could have played a key role. An interesting question is whether the critical temperature range 30-40 C of life could fix the depth for the underground oceans in which life most probably evolved.

See the article Expanding Earth hypothesis and Pre-Cambrian Earth or the chapter Quantum gravitation and quantum biology in TGD Universe.

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

For the lists of articles (most of them published in journals founded by Huping Hu) and books about TGD see this.

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