Sputnik–The cubic crystalline form of ice, known as ice-VII, is hypothesized to comprise the ocean floor of the Saturn moons of Titan and Europa, as well as planets outside our own solar system. It has never been found in a naturally occurring form on Earth, until now.
The super-dense ice-vii was discovered by a team of geoscientists from the University of Nevada, led by Dr. Oliver Tschauner. According to the researchers, who published their findings in Science, the ice was found accidentally, preserved in a diamond among samples of material extracted from the Earth’s mantle.
There, diamonds are sometimes formed from carbon due to the intense pressure beneath the crust. Rarely, substances such as water get trapped inside. Rarer still, these diamonds make their way up through the mantle and crust to Earth’s surface, with the water trapped inside exposed to temperatures low enough to allow the formation of ice-VII.
After scanning the diamond with an x-ray, the University of Nevada scientists realized that they had found ice-vii, for the first time ever in naturally occurring form.
Before now, ice-VII, a form of ice with a cubic molecular shape which is one and a half times as dense as regular ice, has only been created on Earth in a laboratory environment. Thanks to the find, ice-VII has now officially been recognized as a mineral by the International Mineralogical Association.