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From where did the water came on Earth.

By
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi
Email: nitish.priyadarshi@gmail.com
All life on Earth depends on water. Humans use water for many purposes like drinking,
irrigation, fisheries, industrial processes, transportation, and waste disposal. Water is also
an essential part of the geological cycle. Rain water converts the granitic rocks of the
continents to clay, sand and solutes, and transports them to the ocean where they become
the raw material of future continents. Approximately 80 percent of the water on the Earth
is in the oceans, 19 percent is in the pores of rocks beneath the Earth’s surface, 1 percent
in the form of ice, 0.002 percent is in the streams and lakes, and only about 0.0008
percent in the atmosphere.
Considering the central role of water in human affairs, it is remarkable how little we
know about it.
The question of the origin of water on Earth, or more accurately put, the question of why
there is clearly more water on the Earth than on the other planets of the Solar System, has
not been clarified. There are various popular theories as to how the world's oceans were
formed over the past 4.6 billion years. Some of the most likely contributing factors to the
origin of the Earth’s oceans are as follows:

1. The cooling of the primoridal Earth to the point where the outgassed volatile
components were held in an atmosphere of sufficient pressure for the stabilization
and retention of liquid water.
Today, the air we breathe is stable mixture of 79 percent nitrogen, 20 percent
oxygen, about 1 percent argon (or inert gas), and trace gases like carbon dioxide
and water vapor. But our planet’s original atmosphere, several billion year ago,
was far different. Earth’s very earliest atmosphere probably was swept into space
by the solar wind, a vast stream of particles emitted by the Sun. as Earth slowly
cooled, a more enduring atmosphere formed. The molten surface solidified into a
crust, and gases that had been dissolved in the molten rock were gradually
released, a process called outgassing. Outgassing continues today from hundreds
of active volcanoes worldwide, thus, geologists hypothesize the Earth’s original
atmosphere was made up of gases similar to those released in volcanic emissions
today: water vapor, carbondioxide, nitrogen, and several trace gases.
As the planet continued to cool, the water vapor condensed to form clouds, and
great rain commenced. At first, the water evaporated in the hot air before reaching
the ground, or quickly boiled away upon contacting the surface, just like water
sprayed on a hot grill. This accelerated the cooling of Earth’s crust. When the
surface had cooled below water’s boiling point (100 0 c or 212 0 F), torrential rains
slowly filled the low areas, forming the oceans.

2. Comets, trans-Neptunian objects or water-rich asteroids (protoplanets) from the


outer reaches of the asteroid belt colliding with a pre-historic Earth may have
brought water to the world's oceans. That the Earth's water originated purely from
comets is implausible, as a result of measurements of the isotope ratios of
hydrogen in the three comets Halley, Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp by researchers.
According to this research the ratio of deuterium to protium (D/H ratio) of the
comets is approximately double that of oceanic water.
The Earth is believed to have formed hot and dry, meaning that its current water
content must have been delivered after the planet cooled. Possible candidates for
supplying this water are colliding comets and asteroids. Because of their large
ice comet water has shown that comet water is significantly different from
typical ocean water on Earth.
Asteroidal ice may give a better match to Earth's water, but until now, any ice
that the asteroids may have once contained was thought to either be long gone
or so deeply buried inside large asteroids as to be inaccessible for further analysis.

3. Gradual leakage of water stored in hydrous minerals (actinolite, borax, epsomite,


serpentine, tremolite, gypsum etc.) of the Earth’s crust. The heating or
metamorphism of minerals containing water results in the extraction of water.
These are the water that have been trapped inside rocks for millions or billions of
years. Loss of volatile constituents, H2O, CO2, and the like, are the dominant
processes which occur when rocks change their pressure-temperature environment
and undergo prograde metamorphism through tectonic processes.
4. Magma represents a fiery-liquid silicate melt, containing various elements, oxides
and volatile components (fluorine, chlorine, water, carbon dioxide, etc.). Magma can
be solidified in the depth of the Earth’s crust under the cover of the overlying rocks
and at the surface or near the surface of the Earth. In the former case the process of
solidification of magma is slow; it takes the whole of magma enough time to be
crystallized. When there is a rapid uplift of the magma on to Earth’s surface its
temperature becomes lower, the pressure drops down to normal, and volatile
components are separated including water. Release of water to the atmosphere from
the cooling of the magma is happening from millions of years.

Reference:

Drever, J.I. 1982. The Geochemistry of Natural Waters. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Fyfe, W.S., Price, N.J., and Thompson, A.B., 1978. Fluids in the Earth’s crust. Elsevier
Scientific Publishing company, New york.

Milovsky, A.V. and Kononov, O.V. 1985. Mineralogy. Mir Publishers, Moscow.

Tarbuck, E.J. and Lutgens, F.K. Earth Science. Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_the_world's_oceans
http://www.ozh2o.com/h2solar.html
http://www.astrobio.net/news/article1905.html
http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Science/Images/Asteroid-impact-on-Earth.jpg