12
$\begingroup$

I know that we can make water solid with high pressure, so I think water will be solid in the deep ocean?

If that is true, the depth of the ocean would be limited because water will become ice? Anyone know that maximum depth?

$\endgroup$
3
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is addressed in physics.stackexchange.com/q/104544 $\endgroup$
    – Joce
    Apr 17, 2014 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ Newer question: How deep must Earth's ocean be to form Ice VII on bottom? $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2021 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ Richard Feynman, while not proving his theory on the cause of ice's slippery nature, he discussed the idea of your body weight's pressure on ice as destabilizing to the structure, because he thought, the water molecules are reacting to the hot, porous surface of our footwear.water molecules begin exchanging subatomic particles with the bodies molecular energy causing the water molecules to expand outward toward the feet surface. $\endgroup$
    – Rja davis
    May 11, 2023 at 7:25

3 Answers 3

11
$\begingroup$

You are mistaken. Actually, you can melt ice by applying pressure. This is why ice is so slippery; when you step on a frozen lake, you are melting the very first layer of water, and thus creating a very good instant lubricant for you to slide on. It is a common knowledge false fact, see comments.

Ok, granted, at very high pressures water does become solid. From the phase diagram, to get solid at around 0 °C you need around 650 MPa. How much is that? Pressure depends with depth as:

$$P = \rho g h$$

Assuming constant density, you need a column of water of $66\ \mathrm{km}$ for ice to be formed. That is about six times the depth of Challenger Deep, in Mariana trench.

So the answer is no – on Earth. You will not find enormous amounts of more or less pure liquid water anywhere else in the Solar System, but if you are happy with hydrogen, helium, and other gases, you may find it around Jupiter's core. Definitely, liquid H and He.

When water is mixed with other elements, the phase diagram is perturbed. For example, salt in the sea at atmospheric pressure lowers the freezing point about a couple of degrees (depending on the concentration). If water is mixed with hydrogen, helium, methane, and company as in a gas giant, the diagram will be drastically changed, so more detailed computations would be needed.

$\endgroup$
6
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ While your answer is correct that you don't get ice at the bottom of the ocean, some of your other statements are incorrect or debatable. 1. There is plenty of water in the solar system which is not on Earth. 2. It is not completely clear why ice is slippery. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2014 at 16:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Like Chris said. In fact it's dead certain that, whatever the mechanism is, the slipperiness is NOT due to pressure-related melting. $\endgroup$ Apr 17, 2014 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ I stand corrected on the slipperiness. In the solar system, though you will not find big concentrations of reasonably pure water in liquid form. There are icy asteroids, and water vapour, but none of them are getting solid due to pressure. $\endgroup$
    – Davidmh
    Apr 18, 2014 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Davidmh: any place likely to have enough pressure to solidify ice (i.e., in Neptune's core) is not visible. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2014 at 17:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Well-established models predict that several of the high-pressure phases of ice exist deep inside the icy moons of the gas giants - Ganymede, Europa, Callisto, Titan, Enceladus, Triton... One recent paper even posits a model where layers of liquid water and various phases of ice alternate in an onion-like manner. $\endgroup$
    – JohannesD
    Jun 2, 2014 at 13:44
1
$\begingroup$

In principle, at sufficiently high pressure water does turn into a solid, as can be seen from the phase diagram of water below (image source). This however requires pressures of about $10$G Pa=$10^{10}$ Pa, which is about $10^5$ times bigger than the atmospheric pressure ($\approx 10^5$ Pa = 1 bar). The pressure at the bottom of Mariana Trench is about a thousand times the atmospheric pressure - that is one would need a 100 times higher pressure for turning water into solid.

enter image description here

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

As stated in order for water to become solid due to pressure it would need pressures 100 times greater than those found even at the deepest of ocean depths on Earth. However, it is believed that it is almost a certainty that elsewhere in our galaxy there are large water-covered worlds with oceans deep enough to become solid.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.