The Origin of Atmospheric Oxygen

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  • 1 Barnum Museum, Tufts College, Mass.
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Summary

From the literature several theories of the origin of O2 in the atmosphere are quoted: Oxygen may have been an original constituent, or formed by impact of white hot planetesimals with water vapor (the hydrogen escaping from the earth's atmosphere, or green plants release O2 in photosynthesis, or volcanic vents emitted it (probably not an original source). The author then suggests 6 other possible sources: by meteors, stony meteorites, high temperatures, or penetrating radiations, in the high atmosphere; by lightning and by decomposition of chlorine from volcanic gases, in geologically past times. It is not possible to make very accurate estimates of the quantitative importance of many of these sources.

Summary

From the literature several theories of the origin of O2 in the atmosphere are quoted: Oxygen may have been an original constituent, or formed by impact of white hot planetesimals with water vapor (the hydrogen escaping from the earth's atmosphere, or green plants release O2 in photosynthesis, or volcanic vents emitted it (probably not an original source). The author then suggests 6 other possible sources: by meteors, stony meteorites, high temperatures, or penetrating radiations, in the high atmosphere; by lightning and by decomposition of chlorine from volcanic gases, in geologically past times. It is not possible to make very accurate estimates of the quantitative importance of many of these sources.

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