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March 12, 2014 5:39 PM EDT

Scientists announced Wednesday the discovery of a rare mineral never before found on earth that hints at the existence of an enormous water reservoir trapped deep in the earth’s mantle.

The findings published in the journal Nature suggest there may be more water than is in all the world’s oceans trapped in the “transition zone” between the upper and lower layers of the earth’s mantle, AFP reports.

The evidence stems from the discovery of the mineral Ringwoodite found by amateur gem-hunters in a Brazilian riverbed in 2008. The mineral, which suggests the existence of water, has been found in meteorites before but never on earth, perhaps because scientists have simply been unable to dig deep enough to find it due to the heat and pressure at play that far beneath the planet’s surface.

Implications of the discovery could be profound. “One of the reasons the Earth is such a dynamic planet is the presence of some water in its interior,” said lead researcher Graham Pearson. “Water changes everything about the way a planet works,”

The finding comes after scientists announced last year they’d found huge reserves of freshwater trapped beneath the ocean floor.


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