Jul 20, 2017 | Updated: 06:33 AM EDT

A Three-Billion-Year Old Quartz-Mineral Shows The Contribution Of Comets For Earth’s Atmosphere

May 19, 2017 07:35 AM EDT

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Comet On Eath's Atmosphere
(Photo : Curious Droid / You Tube) Among different scientific mysteries one of the subjects about the formation of Earth’s atmosphere that scientist has been long baffled. However, a three-billion-year-old air sample trapped in quartz mineral shows the link between comet and Earth atmosphere.

There have some ongoing debates about the atmospheric formation of Earth. Some of the researchers argued about the contribution of the Comets for Earth atmosphere. They theorized that Comets might have originally brought some of the water, organic and atmospheric molecules to the Earth.

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In fact, these known components are salient for the formation of a habitable atmosphere. In favor of this concept, researchers from The University of Manchester have found some evidence related to Comet from a three-billion- year old mineral sample.

From the latest report in The University of Manchester, researchers have been analyzing tiny samples of ancient air trapped in water bubbles found in the quartz mineral. Using the age-determining technique, scientist found that the bubble is more than three-billion-years old.

As per the chemical analysis, the air enclosed in the quartz mineral is partly made up of an isotope of the Xenon. This Xenon-isotope is known as U-Xenon which is an extremely rare form of the chemical element. However, this Xenon is also referred as primordial Xenon isotope which isn't usually found on Earth. Apart from Comet, this element is neither present in the Earth's mantle, nor is it found in meteorites.

Due to some evidence, scientist not denied the existence of U-Xenon in early Earth atmosphere. In its support, scientists have established a scientific theory which predicted about Comet's contribution for this rare U-Xenon element on Earth. Most surprisingly, this U-xenon is characteristically very different from the xenon found in the Earth's atmosphere today.

To share their comprehensive studies, researchers published a paper in Nature Communications. According to this paper, Xenon is an exceptional tracer for investigating the origin and fate of volatile elements on Earth. Prof Ray Burgess, Co-author of the paper said The Earth formed too close to the Sun for volatile elements, such as U-Xenon, to easily condense and they would have rapidly boiled off the surface and been lost to space.

He also added that the reason that oceans and an atmosphere exist at all is because volatiles was still being added after the Earth formed. However, scientists are puzzled to identifying the origin of the volatile element and what objects carried them to the early Earth.

Due to volatile nature of U-Xenon, this component is always trying to mix together by geological processes during Earth's geological evolution. Due to this issue, Scientists are taking tiny samples of ancient air trapped in water bubbles in Archean quartz mineral. Basically, this mineral found from the Barberton area of South Africa, well-known for extremely old and very well preserved rock samples.

Prof Bernard Marty, an associate researcher said that the study reveals that three-billion-years ago there was already a xenon component in the Earth's atmosphere different from solar gasses and in asteroids. One possibility is that this xenon was from comets.


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