2009 Annual Science Report
University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting | JUL 2008 – AUG 2009
Analytical and Theoretical Studies on Origin of Earth's Oceans and Atmosphere
Origin of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere is an outstanding problem in Earth science. Given the importance of the oceans and atmosphere to Earth’s habitability, it is a critical question for astrobiology as well. Did these features of our planet, so critical for life, originate by regular processes that are likely to be duplicated frequently in other stellar systems, or was there a large element of chance involved? We are approaching this problem by investigating the occurrence of water in the interstellar medium, in the early solar system, and in the deep Earth, using a variety of chemical and isotopic techniques to characterize Earth’s water and to identify the processes that brought it here.
Our efforts in the past year have concentrated in three areas: 1) evaluating reactions involving water in the interstellar medium and in the solar system, recreated by simulating conditions of extreme cold and low pressure in the laboratory of Dr. Ralf Kaiser; 2) characterizing water in the deep Earth, using the UH Cameca ims 1280 ion microprobe to analyze samples of glass from drill core in two mantle plume settings, Iceland and the Big Island of Hawaii; and 3) assessing systematically the content of water and other volatiles on Earth and in the other rocky planets.
PROJECT MEMBERS:Kimberly Binsted
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.1
Formation and evolution of habitable planets.
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules