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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

Project Summary

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.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
2 Publications
2 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

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.