Scientists have discovered another unique feature that makes the earth livable, a huge underground oxygen store:
A mineral that acts like a sponge beneath Earth's surface stores more oxygen than expected, keeping our planet from becoming dry and inhospitable like Mars.
The key to the abundant oxygen storage is the mineral majorite, which exists deep below Earth's surface in the mantle. Without the oxygen stockpile, Earth would probably be a barren planet hostile to life, authors of a study suggest in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.
The researchers examined majorite in the lab under conditions mimicking the Earth's deep interior and also near the planet's surface. The results showed that under deep-Earth conditions of high temperature and pressure, majorite stores large amounts of oxygen. When the temperature and pressure were decreased, as occurs near Earth's surface, the majorite decomposed and released the oxygen.
"The Earth's upper mantle can store, therefore, much more oxygen than previously expected," said lead author Arno Rohrbach, a doctoral student at the University of Bonn's Mineralogical Institute in Germany.
What another amazing coincidence necessary for life on earth. It's almost like it was all planned.