Dartmouth Events

Earth Shaped by Primordial H2 Atmospheres

Earth Sciences Seminar with speaker Dr. Edward Young, UCLA. Seminar is from 2:10-3:10pm.

Friday, March 31, 2023
2:00pm – 3:15pm
Wilder 111
Intended Audience(s): Alumni, Faculty, Postdoc, Staff, Students-Graduate, Students-Undergraduate
Categories: Arts and Sciences, Lectures & Seminars

Earth's water, intrinsic oxidation state, and metal core density are fundamental chemical features of our planet. Studies of exoplanets provide a useful context for elucidating the source of these chemical traits. Planet formation and evolution models demonstrate that rocky exoplanets commonly formed with hydrogen-rich envelopes that were lost over time. These findings suggest that Earth may also have formed from bodies with H2-rich primary atmospheres.  Here we use a self-consistent thermodynamic model to show that Earth's water, core density, and overall oxidation state can all be sourced to equilibrium between H2-rich primary atmospheres and underlying magma oceans in its progenitor planetary embryos. Water is produced from dry starting materials resembling enstatite chondrites as oxygen from magma oceans reacts with hydrogen. Hydrogen derived from the atmosphere enters the magma ocean and eventually the metal core at equilibrium, causing metal density deficits matching that of Earth. Oxidation of the silicate rocks from solar-like to Earth-like oxygen fugacities also ensues as Si, along with H and O, alloys with Fe in the cores. Reaction with hydrogen atmospheres and metal-silicate equilibrium thus provides a simple explanation for fundamental features of Earth's geochemistry that is consistent with rocky planet formation across the galaxy.

See our Spring '23 Seminar List.

For more information, contact:
Wil Leavitt

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.