They identify the meteorites that could contribute to the Earth at least three times the mass of water that today make up our oceans.
We know our planet is filled with water. The origin of water on Earth that formed Oceans is before human evolution. According to all the formation models of the Solar System, the Earth should be dry. Yet our blue planet’s vast oceans, humid atmosphere, and well-hydrated geology defy data, and that anomaly, water, is precisely what makes Earth unique among the rocky planets of the inner Solar System.
The debate about the origin of water on Earth is millenary, but in the last century it began to have an answer beyond the action of a divine finger.
Among the known meteorites, remnants of alien rocks, there are some that have always been suspected of forming the seas. These are the enstatite chondrite meteorites, the “original” rocks, the ones that formed from the interstellar dust nebula that gave rise to the Solar System and from which the Earth was built.
The EC contains enough hydrogen to have brought to Earth at least three times the mass of water that our oceans make up today
Those first rocks were formed in full boil, when conditions were too warm for the ice-like water within them to survive. So until now it had been assumed that the EC was too dry to be considered the source of the Earth’s rich water reserves.
Now, recent research published in Science has found that the EC contains enough hydrogen to have brought to Earth at least three times the mass of water that our oceans today make up.
Until now, it was generally thought that the Earth’s water is a later addition to its formation, and that it arrived when it already had the character of a planet, wrapped in more hydrated materials that originated in the outer solar system, where water was more abundant. However, this research attributes the origin of the rain, rivers and oceans to the first rocks that served as clay to make our planet.
Laurette Piani and her colleagues have measured the hydrogen content and the deuterium / hydrogen (D / H) ratio in thirteen CE meteorites, the original building blocks. What is remarkable is that they have found that the EC is harboring much more hydrogen than previously assumed.
With the data obtained, they have made new models of how the Earth could be formed taking into account a mixture of materials similar to those of EC chondrite, in a fusion process during the early formation of our planet, and the result is that these materials they could have contributed enough hydrogen to the growing proto-Earth to provide at least three times the amount of water in Earth’s current oceans.
The D / H ratio and nitrogen isotope composition of the analyzed ECs closely align with those of the Earth’s mantle, supporting the claims of Piani and his colleagues that the origins of Earth’s water lie within the rocks from which the planet was built.
Piani’s work brings a crucial and elegant element to this puzzle. Water on Earth can come from the nebular material from which the planet originated. The authors point out that they cannot determine exactly when this contribution of hydrogen occurred, but it did occur when the Earth had already advanced in its formation.
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