Oct 08, 2016 05:16 PM EDT

Sulfate Has A Huge Effect On Earth’s Early Years

By Paula

Scientists found out that sulfate had a huge role on the atmosphere of Earth during its early formation.

It's common knowledge that Earth's atmosphere was surrounded by Methane during its early years. National Geographic called it a "vision of hell with scalding rocks and chocking fumes."  

For 3.5 billion years, carbon dioxide has 34 times methane trapping capability. However, Stephanie Olson from the University of California found out that Earth's atmosphere was not only composed of methane but also of sulfate.

Science Daily reported that by looking at the ocean's biogeochemical cycle, Olson and his team found out that sulfate at some point has taken over methane. She said that oxygen's appearance mixed with sulfate on the Earth's atmosphere caused the rocks to weather on the ground. She also explained that there was a flaw on the prediction of the atmosphere of Earth during its early years.

The Ocean is ignored. It is the place where most methane comes from, Olson stressed. She also added that methane is a problem for seawater sulfate because it can directly destroy methane or limits its production.

For this research, they used a numerical method that calculates sulfate reduction, methane production andother biogeochemical ocean cycle. This method allowed them to divide the ocean into almost 15,000 3D regions.

Chris Reinhard of Georgia Tech explained that this is the best method for their research. He explained that with this method they found out the effects of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.He also explained that free oxygen is necessary to form the ozone layer which shields methane from photochemical destruction.

Timothy Lyons of UC Riverside explained that methane in an exoplanet is a great sign for biosignature. He explained that if there are aliens visiting our planet during the early formations of Earth, they would not have detected methane despite it being present in Earth's history.

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