evolution of the atmosphere in the correct order
A complete reconstruction of the origin and development of the atmosphere would include details of its size and composition at all times during the 4.5 billion years since Earth’s formation.

There were smaller proportions of water vapour, ammonia and methane. For example, the abundance of nitrogen (N) in the solar system is 2.5 times greater than that of Si, whereas its abundance on Earth is less than that of Si by a factor of 0.000079. Before life began on the planet, Earth's atmosphere was largely made up of nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases. The atmosphere that developed after primordial gases had been lost or had failed to accumulate is termed secondary. A process that delivers a gas to the atmosphere is termed a source for the gas.

If the planet grew large (and had, therefore, a substantial gravitational field) before all gases were dispersed from its orbit, it ought to have captured an atmosphere of nebular gases. Earth’s atmosphere - step by step evolution Using a physical model to show the development of our current atmosphere Preparation: ... Every effort has been made to locate and contact copyright holders of materials included in this activity in order to obtain their permission. are present in very old rocks that could only have formed if there was little or no oxygen at the time. Scientists can’t be sure about the early atmosphere and can only draw evidence from other sources. Depending on the question under consideration, it can make sense to speak in terms of either an ultimate source—the process that delivered a component of the volatile inventory to Earth—or an immediate source—the process that sustains the abundance of a component of the present atmosphere. Concepts related to atmospheric development, Processes affecting the composition of the early atmosphere, Capture and retention of primordial gases, Interaction of biological and geologic cycles, Sequence of events in the development of the atmosphere, Absence of a captured primordial atmosphere.

Just formed Earth: Like Earth, the hydrogen (H 2 ) and helium (He) were very warm. Throughout the history of the atmosphere, sources and sinks have often been simultaneously present. It is believed that there was intense volcanic activity for the first billion years of the Earth's existence. While one process consumes a particular component, another produces it, and the concentration of that component in the atmosphere will rise or fall depending on the relative strengths of the sources and sinks. Alternatively, if planetary accretion preceded ejection of gases and Earth had accumulated a primordial atmosphere, perhaps the early solar radiation, particularly the solar wind, was so intense that it was able to strip all gases from the inner planets, meeting the second condition described above—namely, complete loss. Iron-based compounds are present in very old rocks that could only have formed if there was little or no oxygen at the time. The early atmosphere was probably mostly carbon dioxide, with little or no oxygen. It is likely that hundreds of millions of years separated the first biological production of oxygen by unicellular organisms and its eventual accumulation in the atmosphere. Its early atmosphere was probably formed from the gases given out by volcanoes. If the removal of gases occurred in the solar system after nonvolatile solids had condensed but before the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) accreted, it would have been impossible for Earth to capture a primordial atmosphere. As the Earth cooled down, most of the water vapour condensed and formed the oceans. The table includes the eight most abundant volatile elements, together with others. Furthermore, the nature and variations of the minor components reveal extensive interactions between the atmosphere, terrestrial environment, and biota. Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! As radioactive potassium in rocks decayed over Earth’s history, the 40Ar produced first became trapped within mineral crystals at sites formerly occupied by K+, then was released when the crystals were melted in the course of igneous activity, and eventually reached the surface through outgassing. For example, volcanoes release high quantities of carbon dioxide. After photosynthesizing organisms multiplied on Earth's surface and in the oceans, much of the carbon dioxide was replaced with oxygen. Some scientists describe three stages in the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere as it is today. Formation of a group of solids rich in chemically active volatiles, but not large enough to retain noble gases, followed by a loss of all materials still in the gas phase and an incorporation of the volatile-rich solids in the planet, would be consistent with the chemical evidence and with the processes described above as outgassing and importation. Evolution of the atmosphere, the development of Earth’s atmosphere across geologic time. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? There were smaller proportions of water vapour, ammonia and methane. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. As a result, a description of the history of the atmosphere must concern itself with all volatile components of the crust. For modern atmospheric chemistry and physics, see atmosphere. Chemically active volatiles: hydrogen (H), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), and sulfur (S), Elements that form nonvolatile minerals: oxygen (O), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), and iron (Fe). The development of the atmosphere and such interactions are discussed in this article, with particular attention given to the rise of biologically produced molecular oxygen, O2, as a major component of air. The atmosphere is the layer of gases that surrounds the Earth. The early atmosphere was probably mostly carbon dioxide, with little or no oxygen. It provides gases that are essential to life. The proportion of oxygen went up because of, it was absorbed by plants for photosynthesis, Home Economics: Food and Nutrition (CCEA). The chemically active volatile elements could be incorporated in solids by formation of nitrides and carbides, by hydration of minerals, and by inclusion in crystal structures (such as in the form of ammonium [NH4+] and hydroxide [OH−] ions) and could form some relatively nonvolatile materials independently (organic compounds with high molecular weights are found in meteorites and were probably abundant in the cooling solar nebula); yet, none of these mechanisms was available to the noble gases. This means that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing.

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