A unique study of ancient diamonds showed that the chemical composition of the atmosphere of our planet, which makes it suitable for the active development of life, was laid down at least 2.7 billion years ago.
The work was presented at the Goldschmidt conference on geochemistry. Hydrogen, nitrogen, neon and carbonaceous substances are light chemical elements and compounds that can easily evaporate due to heat or pressure. They are essential for life to arise.
Not all planets are rich in such substances, therefore, according to scientists, such worlds have fewer chances for the emergence and development of life. In this regard, most of the search for life on other planets is focused precisely on volatiles. On Earth, they are initially enclosed in the bowels of the planet and are carried to the surface through volcanic processes. Knowing when the atmosphere was filled with them is the key to understanding the possible development of a hectic life.
However, such ancient rocks were mostly destroyed over the years. But diamonds, as you know, are a very hard material, therefore they retain the gas composition of the ancient Earth inside, being a kind of time capsule. Scientists from the Universities of Lorraine (France) and Alberta (Canada) managed to study ancient diamonds and find out what the composition of the atmosphere was on our planet billions of years ago.
They showed that the environment rich in volatile compounds formed around the Earth at least as early as 2.7 billion years ago. And this is not the limit: the researchers emphasize that the diamonds they study may be much older, so the conditions for the active development of life on our planet could have formed much earlier. Further research is needed to find out.