Dissipation of the rare gases contained in the primordial Earth's atmosphere

Minoru Sekiya, Kiyoshi Nakazawa, Chushiro Hayashi

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43 Citations (Scopus)


If the Earth was formed by accumulation of rocky bodies in the presence of the gases of the primordial solar nebula, the Earth at this formation stage was surrounded by a massive primordial atmosphere (of about 1 × 1026 g) composed mainly of H2 and He. We suppose that the H2 and He escaped from the Earth, owing to the effects of strong solar wind and EUV radiation, in stages after the solar nebula itself dissipated into the outer space. The primordial atmosphere also contained the rare gases Ne, Ar, Kr and Xe whose amounts were much greater than those contained in the present Earth's atmosphere. Thus, we have studied in this paper the dissipation of these rare gases due to the drag effect of outflowing hydrogen molecules. By means of the two-component gas kinetic theory and under the assumption of spherically symmetric flow, we have found that the outflow velocity of each rare gas relative to that of hydrogen is expressed in terms of only two parameters - the rate of hydrogen mass flow across the spherical surface under consideration and the temperature at this surface. According to this result, the rare gases were dissipated below the levels of their contents in the present atmosphere, when the mass loss rate of hydrogen was much greater than 1 × 1017 g/yr throughout the stages where the atmospheric mass decreased from 1 × 1026 g to 4 × 1019 g.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-201
Number of pages5
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1980
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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