Part of the Earth’s atmosphere was brought to the planet by comets billions of years ago, scientists believe. The results of the work were published in the journal Nature Communications.
The researchers analyzed tiny samples of ancient air found in water bubbles found in samples of ancient quartz. The team found that the air in the rocks partly consists of an extremely rare form of the chemical element of xenon – U-Xe. This component is absent in the earth’s mantle and is not found in meteorites, therefore, according to the authors of the study, it was brought to Earth by comets, even before the formation of the atmosphere: the age of the studied quartz samples taken from the core in the South African Barberton region is more than three billion years .
As the authors of the paper note, the study of gases trapped inside ancient rocks opens up new prospects for studying the origin and evolution of volatile elements on the Earth.