A new study has been published claims that a type of meteorite called an enstatite chondrite could be responsible for the abundance of water on Earth. This meteorite has a similar isotopic composition to terrestrial rocks and could represent the material that formed the Earth. Researchers on the study say that these rewrites contain sufficient hydrogen to have delivered to Earth at least three times the mass of water found in the oceans today.
Enstatite chondrites are asteroid remnants that were created from the nebula that formed the solar system. This kind of rock is rare, making up only two percent of known meteorites in collections on the planet today. These rocks have similar oxygen, titanium, and calcium isotopes as rocks commonly found on the Earth.
This new study shows that not only are the isotopes of oxygen, titanium, and calcium similar to rocks on Earth, but the hydrogen and nitrogen isotopes are also similar. Researcher Dr. Laurette Piani says that the team’s discovery shows that the Earth’s building blocks may have significantly contributed to the abundance of water on our planet.
She says that a hydrogen-bearing material was present in the inner solar system at the time of rocky planet formation even though temperatures were too high for water to condense. The components that built the Earth are often assumed to have been dry. This is due to the fact that they came from inner zones of the solar system, or temperatures would’ve been too high for water to condense and come together with other solids during the formation of the planet.
The researchers believe that these meteorites provide a clue that water didn’t have to come from far away for the Earth to be so wet. Another researcher on the project, Dr. Lionel Vacher, says that the most interesting part of the discovery for him is that the chondrites there were believed to be almost dry contained an unexpectedly high abundance of water.