In a strange corner of our solar system, there are two amorphous space masses. They are about the size of continents, and they are believed to spend their time waiting for sustenance to fall on them, then sucking it in. Their natural habitat is more exotic than their diet. It can be described as “rocky”: around it there are strange minerals of unknown colors and shapes. Otherwise, it is somewhat barren, save for the sea shimmering in the distance, and so vast that it contains the same amount of water as all the oceans on Earth combined.
Every day the “weather” is the same: a mild temperature of 1,827 degrees Celsius, and pressure in some areas about 1.3 million times the pressure of the Earth’s surface. In this fracturing environment, atoms twist and even the most common materials begin to behave erratically: rocks are as flexible as plastic, while oxygen behaves like metal.
But this scorching hot spot isn’t on an alien planet, and these clumps aren’t exactly wildlife, they’re actually on Earth, just deep inside.
In this strange world
The environment in question is the lower mantle, the layer of rock that lies just above the planet’s core. This mostly solid mantle is another world, a circular place dotted with a kaleidoscope of crystals, from diamonds (of which there are about a quadrillion tons) to minerals too rare to be found on Earth’s surface.
In fact, the most abundant rocks in this layer, the pergmanite and daphemaite, are largely a mystery to scientists. They need very high pressures unique to the planet’s interior to evolve and will disintegrate if they enter our world.
We can only see them in their natural form when they are trapped inside a diamond that reaches the surface. Even then, it is impossible to know what it actually looks like inside the Earth, as its physical properties vary so much in the pressures that they are usually found beneath.
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