When our planet first formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago, scorching temperatures dominated most of the surface. The planet was a living hell, and there wasn’t any trace of water or life in any form. Earth was pretty much like Venus is today.
Meanwhile, our planet has been through enormous transformations and has become a very friendly environment for life. There are currently 8.7 million species living on Earth today, including plants.
So how was such a tremendous shift possible? Researchers from Yale University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) think they have the answer.
High-magnesium pyroxenites contributed to eliminating CO2 from the atmosphere
WION reveals the new theory in question. Since Earth was a living hell billions of years ago, its atmosphere was also filled with carbon dioxide. It’s obvious that no known life form would be able to withstand such an environment.
Planetary scientist Yoshinori Miyazaki from the California Institute of Technology said as the publication mentioned above quotes:
Somehow, a massive amount of atmospheric carbon had to be removed,
Because there is no rock record preserved from the early Earth, we set out to build a theoretical model for the very early Earth from scratch.
The scientists assumed that rocks covering the early Earth don’t exist on our planet nowadays.
Miyazaki explained, as the same source quotes:
These rocks would have been enriched in a mineral called pyroxene, and they likely had a dark greenish color,
More importantly, they were extremely enriched in magnesium, with a concentration level seldom observed in present-day rocks.
Minerals rich in magnesium can play an important role in getting carbon out of the atmosphere. The wet mantle of Earth convected when the molten planet started to harden. High-magnesium pyroxenites along with the wet mantle amplified the extraction of CO2 from the planet’s atmosphere. Korenaga, another scientist involved in the study, explained as also quoted by WION:
As an added bonus, these ‘weird’ rocks on the early Earth would readily react with seawater to generate a large flux of hydrogen, which is widely believed to be essential for the creation of biomolecules.
The new research was published in Nature.