Earth’s water may have been inherited from material similar to enstatite chondrite meteorites

Laurette Piani, Yves Marrocchi, Thomas Rigaudier, Lionel G. Vacher, Dorian Thomassin, Bernard Marty

Science 28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6507, pp. 1110-1113
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba1948


Supplementary Materials (PDF)

“The origin of Earth’s water remains unknown. Enstatite chondrite (EC) meteorites have similar isotopic composition to terrestrial rocks and thus may be representative of the material that formed Earth. ECs are presumed to be devoid of water because they formed in the inner Solar System. Earth’s water is therefore generally attributed to the late addition of a small fraction of hydrated materials, such as carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, which originated in the outer Solar System where water was more abundant. We show that EC meteorites contain sufficient hydrogen to have delivered to Earth at least three times the mass of water in its oceans. EC hydrogen and nitrogen isotopic compositions match those of Earth’s mantle, so EC-like asteroids might have contributed these volatile elements to Earth’s crust and mantle.”