Earth may have been wet since it formedChristian Fernsby ▼ | August 31, 2020
A new study finds that Earth's water may have come from materials that were present in the inner solar system at the time the planet formed instead of far-reaching comets or asteroids delivering such water.
Asteroids Earth ocean
Researchers from the Centre de Recherches Petrographiques et Geochimiques (CRPG, CNRS/Universite de Lorraine) in Nancy, France, including one who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St.
Louis, determined that a type of meteorite called an enstatite chondrite contains sufficient hydrogen to deliver at least three times the amount of water contained in the Earth's oceans, and probably much more.
Enstatite chondrites are entirely composed of material from the inner solar system essentially the same stuff that made up the Earth originally.
"Our discovery shows that the Earth's building blocks might have significantly contributed to the Earth's water," said lead author Laurette Piani, a researcher at CPRG.
"Hydrogen-bearing material was present in the inner solar system at the time of the rocky planet formation, even though the temperatures were too high for water to condense."
The findings from this study are surprising because the Earth's building blocks are often presumed to be dry.
They come from inner zones of the solar system where temperatures would have been too high for water to condense and come together with other solids during planet formation.
The meteorites provide a clue that water didn't have to come from far away. ■