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Detailed analyses of the gases provide clues about where those atmospheric components originated, says Greg Holland, an isotope geochemist at the University of Manchester in England. Those analyses, reported in the Dec. 11 Science, suggest that those gases, as well as many others now cloaking our planet, arrived via comets or were swept up from nearby gas clouds during the late stages of Earth’s formation.
The gases that make up Earth's atmosphere came from a swarm of comets, not from bubbling volcanoes as long thought, a new study says. The new theory came about after scientists discovered that pristine samples of the elements krypton and xenon, recently collected from deep within the Earth, have the same chemical makeup as ancient meteorites