atmosphere

Clues to Archean Skies Trapped in Ancient Carbon

Clues to Archean Skies in Ancient Carbon

Xenon is a noble gas found in tiny amounts in the atmosphere, but this unreactive element has had a turbulent history on Earth. Much of the original atmospheric xenon likely came from a mixture of meteors and comets during the final stages of Earth’s accretion. Later, in the Archean eon, most of the primordial xenon escaped to space as the atmosphere changed and evolved. New research finds evidence of these atmospheric events, and the transition from primordial to modern xenon compositions, preserved inside ancient carbonaceous compounds.

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