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Isotopic constraints on the origin and nature of primitive material in the Solar System and on early Earth

Abstract : The Earth formed some 4.5 Ga from the accumulation of dust, rocks and gas. The composition of these primitive materials is today recorded in meteorites. However, the origin of volatile elements within the atmosphere (e.g., H, C, N, O) remains poorly understood. By combining experimental approaches and the analysis of natural samples, I studied the composition of celestial objects comprising the ingredients required for the formation of the terrestrial atmosphere. These mainly correspond to volatile elements trapped in meteoritic organic materials and in the ice of cometary bodies. In order to better understand the timeline of Earth's formation and volatile accretion, I used noble gases (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe) as tracers of the physical processes that occurred in the early Solar System and on primitive Earth. Whilst comets significantly contributed to the heavy noble gas budget of the terrestrial atmosphere (~20%), most of the other terrestrial volatile elements (including water, carbon and nitrogen) would have been supplied to Earth by chondrtitic bodies similar to meteorites. Once formed, the atmosphere evolved over geological periods of time, leading to the establishment of suitable environmental conditions for life to develop. The major processes that affected the mass and composition of the ancient atmosphere can be studied by investigating the isotopic evolution of atmospheric Xe, from 4.5 Ga to ~2 Ga. We investigate the possibility to bring constraints on the age of organic materials isolated from sedimentary ricks older than 2 Ga, using the isotopic signature of the Xe component that was trapped at the time of their formation. This method could have implications regarding the presumed age of the earliest remnants of organic life.
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Submitted on : Thursday, September 3, 2020 - 3:27:53 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 4:55:14 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, December 2, 2020 - 7:04:22 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-02553723, version 1


David V. Bekaert. Isotopic constraints on the origin and nature of primitive material in the Solar System and on early Earth. Ocean, Atmosphere. Université de Lorraine, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020LORR0002⟩. ⟨tel-02553723⟩



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