Earth’s Water May Have Come From… Earth

Guest “full circle” by David Middleton

Way back in the Pleistocene, when I was a young geology student with hair, we were taught that the most likely source of Earth’s water was volcanic out-gassing. The water that fills our oceans, enables plate tectonics and made life possible, was thought to have originated inside the Earth and was expelled by volcanoes as water vapor. Then there was a cavalcade of comets… My recollection is that sometime after Walter and Luis Alvarez demonstrated that a big chunk of space rock took out the non-avian dinosaurs, meteors and comets were suddenly the cause of everything… kind of like CO2. The new paradigm was that water and, perhaps life itself, was brought to Earth by comets bombarding the Earth over billions of years… Then someone took a hard look at enstatite chondrite meteorites:

Meteorite study suggests Earth may have always been wet
Enstatite chondrite meteorites, once considered ‘dry,’ contain enough water to fill oceans

By Talia Ogliore August 27, 2020

A new study finds that Earth’s water may have come from materials that were present in the inner solar system at the time the planet formed — instead of far-reaching comets or asteroids delivering such water. The findings published Aug. 28 in Science suggest that Earth may have always been wet.

Researchers from the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG, CNRS/Université de Lorraine) in Nancy, France, including one who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, determined that a type of meteorite called an enstatite chondrite contains sufficient hydrogen to deliver at least three times the amount of water contained in the Earth’s oceans, and probably much more.

Enstatite chondrites are entirely composed of material from the inner solar system — essentially the same stuff that made up the Earth originally.

“Our discovery shows that the Earth’s building blocks might have significantly contributed to the Earth’s water,” said lead author Laurette Piani, a researcher at CPRG. “Hydrogen-bearing material was present in the inner solar system at the time of the rocky planet formation, even though the temperatures were too high for water to condense.”


Enstatite chondrites are rare, making up only about 2 percent of known meteorites in collections.

But their isotopic similarity to Earth make them particularly compelling. Enstatite chondrites have similar oxygen, titanium and calcium isotopes as Earth, and this study showed that their hydrogen and nitrogen isotopes are similar to Earth’s, too. In the study of extraterrestrial materials, the abundances of an element’s isotopes are used as a distinctive signature to identify where that element originated.


Washington University in St. Louis

Enstatite chondrites are thought to have formed in the inner solar system, where Earth was formed. It’s long been interpreted that Earth and Enstatite chondrites formed from essentially the same material. Until recently, it was thought that enstatite chondrites were devoid of water because they formed too close to the Sun.

“The most interesting part of the discovery for me is that enstatite chondrites, which were believed to be almost ‘dry,’ contain an unexpectedly high abundance of water,” said Lionel Vacher, a postdoctoral researcher in physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Vacher prepared some of the enstatite chondrites in this study for water analysis while he was completing his PhD at Universite de Lorraine. At Washington University, Vacher is working on understanding the composition of water in other types of meteorites.

Science Daily

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William Abbott
August 28, 2020 6:12 pm

The earth is bombarded daily with small comets, thousands and thousands of them. So is the moon. All the planetary water is sourced from this comet flux. Mars, the water on the asteroids (Ceres), Pluto’s water ice mountain ranges. The surface water on Mercury.

It is the most disruptive experimental discovery in perhaps the history of science. Perhaps this is the reason no one even considers it possible. But there is Louis Frank’s discovery, unrefuted, 40 years on. Totally ignored, waiting to be rediscovered, probably very very soon.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  William Abbott
August 28, 2020 7:01 pm

Frank’s theory has been widely refuted and disproved by empirical evidence to the contrary. If the Earth was bombarded with tens of thousands of small comets every day, so also would be the Moon and it’s not.

Over the last 40 years the instrumentation observing the upper atmosphere and lunar surface has advanced “astronomically”. Frank’s small comets are nowhere to be found. In addition, noble gas concentrations would be much higher by orders of magnitude if small comets had been striking the Earth for billions of years.

The new findings above are suggestive evidence that Earth has always been wet. It’s a reasonable hypothesis and not all that “earth shaking”.

(Note: puns are in quotation marks for the sake of the humor challenged.)

William Abbott
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 28, 2020 9:08 pm

Where does the planetary water come from? Mercury, the Moon, the asteroids, Pluto, Pluto’s moons. Nix, 49 km long has water ice on it. The moons of Saturn and Jupiter, some of them have as much water as the earth. How is it that Pluto and Mercury have a lot of water ice on their surfaces? Please explain

Tom Abbott
Reply to  William Abbott
August 29, 2020 5:54 am

“Where does the planetary water come from?”

Planetary water could come from more than one source. The Earth might have acquired most of its water from the materials that formed it, while other planetary bodies could have acquired their water from comets and asteriods crashing into them.

If the claim about enstatite chondrites is correct, then we can probably expect there to be a lot of water worlds like Earth out in the universe.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  William Abbott
August 29, 2020 10:53 am

Your entire argument seems to be “if you can’t explain these observations, then my speculations must be true”. Not terribly convincing, I’m afraid. There is no shame in admitting that you just don’t know, but that doesn’t get you published, now does it?

Reply to  William Abbott
August 29, 2020 4:35 pm

“William Abbott August 28, 2020 at 9:08 pm
Where does the planetary water come from? Mercury, the Moon, the asteroids, Pluto, Pluto’s moons. Nix, 49 km long has water ice on it. The moons of Saturn and Jupiter, some of them have as much water as the earth. How is it that Pluto and Mercury have a lot of water ice on their surfaces?”

Why should ‘we’ explain!?
You, just summarized how extensive normal water distribution is throughout the solar system.

Reply to  William Abbott
August 31, 2020 3:25 am

Water is just 4 hydrogen atoms combined the two oxygen. Anything that contains these two elements will result in water formation.
Oxygen is the most common element on earth.
In the early days of earth formation it would be locked up. “Life” change all that and released “free oxygen” into the air replacing our old carbon dioxide atmosphere with an oxygen/nitrogen one.
Our Sun has a hydrogen atmosphere and the Corona sphere of the sun generates a solar wind that circulates the hydrogen throughout the solar system.
Any water created in the upper atmosphere, that is not retained, most likely is captured by the moon and other objects downwind.
Heavier “LITE” gases are captured by our magnetic field, mostly methane (hydrolyzed carbon) and ammonia (hydrolyzed nitrogen), thrown at us from large explosions from under the surface of the sun in X class flares. Both of these will oxidize upon contact with the atmosphere and is commonly called the “aurora borealis” (The northern lights) creating billions of tons of water with every large solar storm. You can tell what the burning gas is made of by its color in spectral analysis.
This also explains why the ozone hole appears every spring in Antarctica as the returning sun burns off the frozen polar stratospheric clouds that collect from solar gases.
There is no recorded precipitation over the main continent of Antarctica, but the ice cap gets an average of a foot thicker from this process every year. The only source is extra terrestrial from oxidizing solar gases.
There are other water sources besides the ones listed here like ice comets.
The gases from ancient exploding supernovas will have come up the local chimney directly at us. The mass of nearly every element in the periodic chart will surround our system to block out the sun’s light, possibly causing an ice age. ( just as gas currently bocks out our ability to see the center of our own galaxy) lce of all types will coat the appropriate moons and planets. (Like covering Europa and mars)
A cloud of ammonia incircling earth for hundreds of years would not only collapse our atmosphere, rising ocean levels hundreds of feet as the ammonia burns oxidizing into water, but explains why the earth has so much nitrogen. More than can be produced by the decay of radioactive isotopes deep underground.

Don’t tell the global warming activist about the carbon from methane gas thrown at us from the sun in solar events. They would want to do something about it.

William Abbott
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 28, 2020 9:15 pm

Do you mind sharing the refutation of Frank’s evidence? No one has every explained away his repeated observations and measurements. They simply dismiss them as impossible and therefore they are instrument “noise”.

The holes observed in the ionosphere by the imagining instruments were real. It is science at its purest and best. No one dare look again for fear they will suffer the same fate as Frank.

Fred Souder
Reply to  William Abbott
August 28, 2020 10:29 pm

I remember reading about it years ago. My first thought was: “All these bits of comet hitting the earth continuously, as water or ice. By the time they reach the ionosphere they might be traveling less than 60,000 mph, but not by much. That would explain why we see so many streaks of light from the tremendous amount of kinetic energy, like a meteor storm every night! Oh, wait…”

Reply to  Fred Souder
August 29, 2020 6:38 am

Explain the water source for noctilucent clouds? There is no mechanism to transport water vapor from the lower atmosphere to the mesosphere. The stratopause and the stratosphere are essentially dry. We image water vapor in the mesosphere year-round without regard for the noctilucent cloud season.

your reply sounds like a refutation of the heliocentric solar system. “I believe my own lying eyes” “I see the sunrise and the sunset…” Oh wait, you believe what you don’t see.

BTW – ANYBODY want to discuss this seriously? Why all the ridicule and dismissal on this website.

John Tillman
Reply to  Fred Souder
August 29, 2020 4:05 pm

Two main hypothesized sources of H2O in the Mesosphere:

The water vapour source is not known with certainty. The mesosphere is extremely dry but some water might be carried and across gaps in the tropopause and lofted upwards by atmospheric gravity waves. Another potential source is methane. This reacts in the stratosphere with hydroxyl radicals, OH, to form water molecules. Rocket exhausts deposit water into the mesosphere and some have been associated with specific later cloud formation but this is not considered a major effect.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
August 30, 2020 6:05 am

I used to know a bloke called Frank.

michael hart
Reply to  Paul
August 30, 2020 1:11 pm

Frank Spencer?

William Abbott
Reply to  Paul
August 30, 2020 4:21 pm
Russ Wood
Reply to  William Abbott
August 29, 2020 7:40 am

I’ve always loved the term “The Late Heavy Bombardment”!

August 28, 2020 6:26 pm

What about a biological explanation?

There was originally a methane rich atmosphere. The earliest life form used that as food and its waste product was oxygen. The result was the Oxygen Catastrophe and Earth’s first extinction event. The oxygen in the atmosphere would surely have allowed the remaining methane to burn off, creating CO2 and water.

If we take the assumptions of the Oxygen Catastrophe as given, I don’t see how at least some of Earth’s water didn’t come from the combustion of atmospheric methane.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  commieBob
August 28, 2020 8:16 pm

Your post makes zero sense, chemically and chemical energetics wise. Plus lots of mineral evidence to support oxygenation events led to great crash-out precipitation events of iron laden ocean water upon exposure to oxygen as the Earth warmed out of an ice ages billions of years ago.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 29, 2020 12:19 am

I’m not just making this up you know. (apologies to Anna Russel)

Eventually, oxygen started to accumulate in the atmosphere, with two major consequences.

First, it has been proposed that oxygen oxidized atmospheric methane (a strong greenhouse gas) to carbon dioxide (a weaker one) and water. This weakened the greenhouse effect of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing planetary cooling, which has been proposed to have triggered a series of ice ages known as the Huronian glaciation, bracketing an age range of 2.45–2.22 Ga.[18][19][20] A fourth glaciation event found in South Africa is ~2.22 Ga in age. Because geological evidence suggests that the ice reached sea-level in some areas and that the South African event occurred at low latitudes, the latter is associated with a so-called Snowball Earth.[21]


Bekker, Andrey (2014). “Huronian Glaciation”. In Amils, Ricardo; Gargaud, Muriel; Cernicharo Quintanilla, José; Cleaves, Henderson James (eds.). Encyclopedia of Astrobiology. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 1–8. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_742-4. ISBN 9783642278334.


Kopp, Robert E.; Kirschvink, Joseph L.; Hilburn, Isaac A.; Nash, Cody Z. (2005). “The Paleoproterozoic snowball Earth: A climate disaster triggered by the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102 (32): 11131–11136. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10211131K. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504878102. PMC 1183582. PMID 16061801.


Lane, Nick (5 February 2010). “First breath: Earth’s billion-year struggle for oxygen”. New Scientist. No. 2746.


Evans, D.A.; Beukes, N.J.; Kirschvink, J.L. (March 1997). “Low-latitude glaciation in the Palaeoproterozoic era”. Nature. 386 (6622): 262–266. Bibcode:1997Natur.386..262E. doi:10.1038/386262a0. ISSN 0028-0836

Maybe you could explain exactly why my comment “makes zero sense, chemically and chemical energetics wise.”

Reply to  commieBob
August 29, 2020 4:33 am

Commie Bob, you really have no clue and clearly have taken in rubbish from Green and socialists who have a political agenda but no understanding of technology.
Firstly, methane CH4 is not a so-called green house gas and its actual absorption of radiation energy occurs a) at a lower wavelength than emitted from the Earths surface and b) the amount of absorption (as a pure gas) is a tiny fraction of CO2. See and the included chart from NASA.
Secondly, methane does not oxidise in the atmosphere- if it did there would be none there to be measured.
Thirdly, the amount of methane in the atmosphere (about 1.5ppm) is a tiny fraction of CO2 which itself is only a trace gas at about 410ppm
Finally, there is no evidence that at one time the Earth had lots of CH4 in the atmosphere. The evidence is that there was considerable CO2. When photosynthesis started CO2 was taken up and O2 given off. The start of animal life such as Corals and molluscs took in CO2 to make limestone deposits. Gradually the oxygen levels increased to allow air breathing animals to live on land.

Reply to  cementafriend
August 29, 2020 6:03 am

Deal with what I actually said.

If we take the assumptions of the Oxygen Catastrophe as given, I don’t see how at least some of Earth’s water didn’t come from the combustion of atmospheric methane.

If you have the right amount of methane in the atmosphere (5 – 15%) and at least 12% oxygen, methane is explosive. All you need is enough static electricity to cause a spark.

John Tillman
Reply to  commieBob
August 29, 2020 3:26 pm

The Oxygen Catastrophe arose from the evolution of photosynthesis by cyanobacteria, which use sunlight to split water molecules into H and O, then attach the H ions (protons) to CO2, making sugar.

Methane doesn’t feature in the process. How do you get O2 from CH4?

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 4:59 pm

Sure! That’s the ticket!

Except for reversing the arrow of time to put the 2.3 Ga Oxygen Catastrophe cart before the 3.5 Ga photosynthesis horse.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  commieBob
August 29, 2020 5:30 pm

Sir, a small amount of the water we have now could have come from then but not much. The atmosphere above you currently weighs 14.7 lbs per square foot. The O2 content is only 23% by mass. There is simply not enough atmosphere to burn to account for an appreciable portion of the oceans, maybe only the top foot or two of the ocean. The other supporting evidence is that there are layers of iron which precipitated out of the oceans when enough oxygen was available. Therefore, there was already a lot of water on the planet before the methane and O2 could have burned.

August 28, 2020 6:27 pm

Why couldn’t it be a mix of both? Obviously, there was a lot of water vapor in the early vulcanism of the planet after formation, and there was also a lot of early bombardment by asteroids and comets for quite some time, right until this very day, although it is minuscule today to what it was perhaps in the early solar system. Logic says it would be a combination of both, but how much of either should be the question.

Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2020 8:27 am

Agreed, there was a time when the rocky planets were formed, Jupiter was causing mayhem until Saturn called time. During this time earth would have been bombarded, my assumption is that nothing is as black and white as some would have it appear

Steve Case
August 28, 2020 6:34 pm

Uh… so sea level rise is due to comets? I’m tempted to say, pull my other leg.
Yeah, I know Dave didn’t say that.

Reply to  Steve Case
August 29, 2020 6:54 am

Indeed it does. That is probably the most disruptive part of Frank’s discovery. The oceans are nowhere near as old as we think they are. Like all planetary water the oceans origins are from Frank’s comet flux.

August 28, 2020 6:38 pm

Giant-impact hypothesis
“The giant-impact hypothesis, sometimes called the Big Splash, or the Theia Impact, suggests that the Moon formed from the ejecta of a collision between the proto-Earth and a Mars-sized planetesimal, approximately 4.5 billion years ago, in the Hadean eon (about 20 to 100 million years after the Solar System coalesced)”

If accept the Moon formed from an impactor, it seems to me that impactor brought a lot water to Earth. Also a lot iron for the Earth core. And forming near Earth, brought a lot tidal heating, and it seems our Moon is related to Earth still having tectonic activity.
A lot of space rock have water in form of hydrates. Any impact provide heat than will release water from it’s hydrate form. So I would say before proto earth was hit by the Theia Impact it had a lot water, as I would say all planets have a lot water.
But Earth mantle is suppose to be quite dry [as dry as the Moon}. I would say or guess most planets don’t as dry of mantle as Earth does, because other planets don’t have an active plate tectonics {which causes Earth’s mantle to be so dry].
Anyways, I would say we have ocean, because of the impact and formation of our Moon.

Reply to  gbaikie
August 28, 2020 11:30 pm

The Pacific Basin is a moon sized crater. 😎

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Earthling2
August 29, 2020 1:50 am

Except it’s a more recent creation of plate tectonics.

Reply to  gbaikie
August 30, 2020 3:17 am

Whatever happened things settled down quite quickly.
Approx 4.4 billion year old zircons have been found in approx 3 billion year old sediments in Western Australia. The zircons suggest that oceans and continental crust were present not long after the planet was supposed to be a heaving molten mass.

August 28, 2020 6:42 pm

“comets were suddenly the cause of everything… kind of like CO2”

much of “SCIENCE” is like that.
Researchers walking around with a cause in their head, armed with confirmation bias, and looking for the evidence that just has to be out there. If you haven’t found it yet you haven’t looked hard enough.

A really great example is climate science of course but there is another … Richard Firestone and the comet theory of the Younger Dryas that refuses to die.
Richard loves comets.

PS: Glad to see David Middleton as a regular contributor here.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 8:10 am

Just like cultures — one extreme to another.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  chaamjamal
August 29, 2020 6:11 am

“much of “SCIENCE” is like that.
Researchers walking around with a cause in their head, armed with confirmation bias, and looking for the evidence that just has to be out there”

This is what Alarmists do. They see Human-caused Climate Change everywhere because that’s what they are looking for.

And this is just the thing a good scientist should avoid at all costs. Your own biases are your own worst enemy. They prevent you from seeing clearly.

Robert of Texas
August 28, 2020 6:47 pm

Oh my GAWD! Say it isn’t sooo… Water from the Earth???

I have another hypothesis, and I’ll bet I am right. It came mostly from planet formation and then was added to by icy debris striking the Earth for 4.whatever billion years.

Why do scientists just get STUCK on a single reason for anything natural? Nature is messy and tangled up. It doesn’t conform to our needs to put things in tidy categories.

Pop Piasa
August 28, 2020 7:00 pm

It pains me that Wash-U STL can’t seem to differentiate between arts and science, the former is subjective and the latter is objective. Perhaps colleges of Arts & Science turn out thespian scientists with a talent for magic tricks, juggling, or painting gloomy pictures.

August 28, 2020 7:30 pm

If water came from beyond earth why did it pick earth to gather? Wouldn’t all the planets have equal bombardment?

Reply to  markl
August 28, 2020 8:41 pm

Factors such as distance from the sun, gravity, thin atmosphere lack of a magnetosphere to protect the planet from solar wind and radiation, all play a roll whether a planet can retain it’s atmosphere and water.

Reply to  markl
August 29, 2020 7:04 am

Look at images of Pluto from 2015. Its covered with water ice mountains. Pluto’s moons Nix and Charon are truly tiny, but the water ice is on their surfaces too. The asteroid, Ceres has water on it, images of Ceres water ice mountain, is as close as google. Water on the moon. None of these planetary bodies have gravitational fields strong enough to hold water ice on the surface for millennia, let alone billions of years.

Look at all the water we have discovered on the moon. Then there are the earth-sized moons of Saturn and Jupiter; they appear to have as much surface water as earth.

William Astley
August 28, 2020 8:03 pm

There are at least a half dozen observations that disprove the late veneer theory as the explanation as to how the earth got water and CO2.

Rember atmospheric CO2 is not tracking anthropogenic CO2 emissions. It is tracking planetary temperature changes. Detailed analysis (dozen different techniques and completely different data) has shown that humans caused no more than 15% of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2. To explain the observations there is a large ‘unknown’ source of CO2 coming into the biosphere.

It is primordial CH4 from the core which is low C13 that is the source of hydrocarbons on the surface of the planet and the source of the oceans on the planet. Thomas Gold presented 50 physical surface observations to prove that in his book and in published papers. Geological formations can be analyzed like crime scenes to prove or disprove competing concept of formation.

The water problem and the CO2 problem is caused because…. the newly formed earth was struck by a Mars size object roughly 500 million years after it was formed.

That impact formed the moon and stripped the Earth of its Venus like atmosphere.

In fact, that there would be no life on the earth if the earth was not struck by a Mars size object. Venus’ atmospheric pressure is 93 times greater than the earth which is the reason why it is so hot on the surface of Venus.

High surface temperatures cause planets to lose all of their water to space. The water molecule is broken apart in the atmosphere by UV light and the hydrogen gas has sufficient energy to escape to space.

The second theory to explain the origin of water and CO2 is the deep core, methane theory which was discussed at the Sloan Deep Earth conference.

The liquid core of the planet is known to contain a lighter element and it is know that CH4 in liquid form binds with liquid heavy metals. The heavy metals have an affinity for CH4. The estimate at the Sloan Deep carbon conference was the earth’s liquid core contains roughly 10% CH4.

It is known that the earth’s core started to crystallize about a billion years ago. When the liquid core of the planet starts to crystallize the liquid CH4 is extruded, pushed out of the liquid core at very high pressure.

Elements bind to the liquid CH4 forming a sheath about the liquid CH4, to form a natural pipe. The natural pipe enables the liquid CH4 to be pushed up to the surface of the planet. Where it created, large hydrocarbon deposits. And the oceans that cover 70% of the earth.

The deep earth methane theory, where the crystallizing at the core, pushes the liquid CH4 to the surface of the planet and provide the force to move the large ridge plates that sit on the mantel.

The core crystallization starts up roughly 1 billion years ago to Terraform the earth. Change the surface of the earth to explain the timing of advance life on the earth.

Raise the continents and cover the continents with limestone a Carbon based rock.

There is an old unsolved paradox to explain Cambrian Explosion of advance life, 570 million years ago.
Why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms
Why did the first big, complex organisms spring to life in deep, dark oceans where food was scarce? A new study finds great depths provided a stable, life-sustaining refuge from wild temperature swings in the shallows.

In the beginning, life was small. For billions of years, all life on Earth was microscopic, consisting mostly of single cells.

Then suddenly, about 570 million years ago, complex organisms including animals with soft, sponge-like bodies up to a meter long sprang to life. And for 15 million years, life at this size and complexity existed only in deep water.

Something started up in the geological system roughly a billion years ago to form the continents.

And then to pull the continents apart and push them around on the surface of the earth.

The tectonic theory is missing a force to move the tectonic plates. The plates move and we measure that movement. There is nothing in geology to move the plates.

North American continent is a layer cake, scientists discover

The North American continent is not one thick, rigid slab, but a layer cake of ancient, 3-billion-year-old rock on top of much newer material probably less than 1 billion years old, according to a new study by seismologists. The new findings also indicate that the continent grew by addition of rock from subducting ocean floor, not by mantle plume upwelling from below.

And another problem for the later veneer theory is…

The loss of water problem.

If the source of water and C2 after the earth was struck by a Mars size object was a late bombardment of asteroids.

Then the earth would be dry and lifeless now as water is lost the space by the solar wind.

And there is three times more water dragged down with the ocean plates as they are pushed under the continents as is coming out of volcanic eruptions and magma flow where the ocean plates are being pushed apart.

Water Dragged into Mantel

Seismic study reveals 3 times more water dragged into Earth’s interior

Slow-motion collisions of tectonic plates under the ocean drag about three times more water down into the deep Earth than previously estimated, according to a first-of-its-kind seismic study that spans the Mariana Trench.

Reply to  William Astley
August 29, 2020 1:50 am

Your comment should be crafted into a head post.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 29, 2020 6:49 am

Yes, I should. I’ve never done a post on WUWT. The discoveries of planetary water ice everywhere in the solar system over the last 20 years is the physical confirmation Frank lacked. He died in 2014. Completely ostracized from space physics academia. It’s forgotten now, but one of the major objections at the time to Frank’s observations was the lack of water on the moon. He said, “If we look we will find it” Guess what? Its there. On the surface, liquid water, water ice. Lots of it. Don’t you think surface-water ice on Mercury is recently deposited? I don’t think its been there billions of years hiding in the shaded craters.

William Astley
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 29, 2020 3:20 pm

Hi Philip,

I am going to start on a ‘write up’ next month. It needs pictures, drawings, links to papers, a few simple calculations, and some effort to understand/explain the subject at a conceptual level.

It is good subject for a general audience because it so physical and because the observations/logic is extensive. No equations. With the new observations, the answer is absolutely forced. There is no wiggle room left.

It is also interesting as it logically linked to the mathematical arguments/logic observations show humans did not cause the recent CO2 rise.

It is following the natural path, which Thomas Gold discovered. Gold discovered something physical in the earth. Something about the earth.

Gold presented 50 independent physical observations to prove, the concept was correct, 30 years ago.

So in the last 30 years, there are sufficient observations that the answer just pops out. A high school science class could if the observations are presented using pictures solve the problem.

Geology is constrained. There must be answers to all geological conceptual problems. There are not a finite number of possibilities to move the massive rigid tectonic plates and to break up the tectonic plates. And there are not an infinite number of possibilities to create the first deep ocean on the earth 570 million years ago.

John Tillman
Reply to  William Astley
August 29, 2020 5:10 pm

Venus us hot because it turns so slowly. So is Mercury, but it cools off during its long night. Venus’ atmosphere keeps the dark side hot during its 121.5-Earth day night. There might also be some conduction through the lithosphere from the lit side.

IMO Venus maintained its thick atmosphere because it lacks Earth’s chemistry, geology and biology, which have sucked CO2, SO2 and some N2 out of our air.

Brett Keane
Reply to  John Tillman
September 1, 2020 10:55 pm

No John, Venus is hot from its massive atmosphere hence its pressure effect. Also from being closer to the heat source ie Sun. Pressure densifies the gas molecules and their energy content per m3.

But her lapse rate etc. is not affected by any CO2 effect but merely by the Ideal Gas Laws and relative Solar input. As Maxwell predicted in his “Kinetics of Gases” c. 1867. Brett Keane, NZ

John Tillman
Reply to  Brett Keane
September 2, 2020 10:15 am

That Venus’ heat comes from its slow turning is easily shown by basic calculations. Mercury is almost as hot, with practically no atmosphere, and its average distance from the Sun doesn’t account for the small difference.

The thick atmosphere helps to keep the dark side hot, but atmospheric pressure isn’t the main reason for Venusian heat.

John Tillman
Reply to  William Astley
August 29, 2020 5:38 pm

Continents formed about 3 Ga, not 1 Ga.

Pat Frank
August 28, 2020 8:10 pm

I looked through the M&M in the Supplemental Information. Piani, et al., pyrolyzed dried rock samples at 1450 C and passed the pyrolysis gases through a glassy carbon reducing column to turn any protons (H+ from hydroxy hydrogen) into hydrogen gas (H2).

They never measured actual water content of the EC meteorite samples or of any of their standards. Always just evolved H2.

They could have baked out any trapped water and detected it by mass spectrometry, as H2O. But they didn’t.

So, the upshot is that the EC meterorites contain little or no actual water. Just H+ bound as metal hydroxides.

They could have done an experiment to see whether pyrolysis converted metal hydroxides into metal oxides with evolution of H2O. But they didn’t.

It’s possible that metal hydroxides could produce water by baking. Maybe that happened on Earth, and maybe not.

But Piani, et al, apparently didn’t do any experiment showing evolution of water and illustrating a possible mechanism.

Thermal decomposition of magnesium hydroxide [Mg(OH)2] over the range of 300-900 C produced only H2 and O2. But no H2O.

Color me skeptical.

Reply to  Pat Frank
August 29, 2020 2:04 am

“They could have done an experiment to see whether pyrolysis converted metal hydroxides into metal oxides with evolution of H2O. But they didn’t.”
Your metal hydroxide observation has a similarity to the metal nitride idea of Ian Miller. Ian provides a valid chemical mechanism by which nitrogen can be incorporated into the solid particles which form the process of planetary accretion :-
“There is, however, a further mechanism for accreting nitrogen. If the stellar nebula reaches the 2000 K, at that temperature nitrogen reacts with most metals to form nitrides, which, being solids, will be able to accrete, and will subsequently react hydrothermally to form ammonia able to be released during degassing.”
Miller, Ian, Early Martian Atmosphere and Biogenesis (April 2001). Chemistry Preprint Archive Vol. 2001, Issue 4, pp 126-140. Available at SSRN:


Pat Frank
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 29, 2020 5:16 am

Hi Phil — thanks, I generally understand that chemistry. Conversion of nitrides to ammonia requires a proton source. “Hydrothermally” means ‘exposed to water,’ which would do the conversion. But a source of water (or acid) must be already present.

Lithium metal, by the way, is the only metal able to react with N2 at room temperature. The lattice energy of Li3N is so large, that the reaction is favored.

Reply to  Pat Frank
August 29, 2020 6:38 am

“But a source of water (or acid) must be already present.”
Thanks Pat. I agree.

So now let me float this idea past you. The formation of an iron core by reduction of iron minerals. Take for example a chondrite containing iron pyroxene, or perhaps more simply ferrous oxide dust itself which seems like a good starting mineral. Add to this a goodly supply of carbonaceous material, provide a suitable source of heat, for example a highly radioactive post-supernova mixture of short half-life radioactive nucleotides and away you go. (I know I am doing cooking not chemistry but you get the idea).

The standard iron smelting process would generate metallic iron, water and carbon dioxide from an appropriately hydrogen rich carbonaceous feed-stock.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 29, 2020 7:19 am

Hi Phil – agreed; it’s possible to produce water from elemental hydrogen and metal oxides. Carbonaceous chondrites contain amino acids and a variety of hydrocarbons. Heat them with metal oxides and metallic iron, and you’ll get water.

All agreed. Let’s see ECs do that.

Earth condensed at about 1000 K. There was plenty of metallic iron present already, also ferrous iron mostly as FeO, and carbonaceous materials. Maybe it all cooked together to produce enough water to fill the oceans,

I just want to see the mechanism, and it should centrally include ECs.

I’m still skeptical that it could all happen so opportunistically as to produce our water oceans. Infall of icy comets always seemed the best source of the oceans, to me.

Pat Frank
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 5:21 am

Hi David — agreed about their finding about H/D, etc., which is interesting. But they’re claiming a source of water for terrestrial oceans. They need a plausible mechanism for production of H2O from ECs.

There are ways to simulate the conversion in the lab. If the mechanism is not by geological baking, which appears likely, then what is it? If it takes heat and high pressure, then it is possible to simulate deep mantle chemistry in a diamond anvil cell.

Let’s see a demonstrated mechanism. I remain skeptical, but interested.

Pat Frank
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 7:35 am

So, let’s see. We have EC producing H2. And then H2 reacting with SiO2 to make H2O, and SiH4.

All under the heat and pressure of the mantle.

And then, all that water emerges onto the surface to produce the oceans, because none of it was trapped in the mantle rocks where it formed.

Nor did any of it react with the abundant metallic iron to produce FeO and H2.

Fe + H2O –> FeO + H2 is actually thermodynamically favored.

However, SiO2 + 4H2 –> SiH4 + 2H2O is disfavored.

All that more likely than icy comets? I remain skeptical.

Pat Frank
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 4:08 pm

Hi David — your comment about the higher D/H on Hale-Bopp almost convinced me. Turns out on looking, though, that Hale-Bopp is a far Kuiper belt object with an orbital period of 2537 years.

That makes Hale-Bopp an old comet. It’s had lots of encounters with the sun. Outgassing would excessively deplete lighter hydrogen versus deuterium.

So, the Hale-Bopp H/D evidence doesn’t seem a convincing bit of evidence.

The whole question of D/H ratios seems complicated, and resistant to resolution through solar-thermal outgassing of isotopes. For example, “D/H measurements of OH groups in phyllosilicate rich meteorites suggest a mixture of cometary water and water adsorbed from the nebula by the rocky grains that formed the bulk of the Earth may be responsible for the terrestrial D/H. The D/H ratio in cometary HCN is 7 times higher than the value in cometary H2O. Species-dependent D-fractionations occur at low temperatures and low gas densities via ion-molecule or grain-surface reactions and cannot be explained by a pure solar nebula chemistry.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 5:46 pm

A paper, available free in full, from last year sheds light on this issue:

Terrestrial deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in water in hyperactive comets,-Dariusz%20C.&text=The%20D%2FH%20ratio%20in,originating%20from%20the%20Kuiper%20belt.


The D/H ratio in cometary water has been shown to vary between 1 and 3 times the Earth’s oceans value, in both Oort cloud comets and Jupiter-family comets originating from the Kuiper belt. This has been taken as evidence that comets contributed a relatively small fraction of the terrestrial water. We present new sensitive spectroscopic observations of water isotopologues in the Jupiter-family comet 46P/Wirtanen carried out using the GREAT spectrometer aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The derived D/H ratio of (1.61 ± 0.65)×10−4 is the same as in the Earth’s oceans. Although the statistics are limited, we show that interesting trends are already becoming apparent in the existing data. A clear anti-correlation is seen between the D/H ratio and the active fraction, defined as the ratio of the active surface area to the total nucleus surface. Comets with an active fraction above 0.5 typically have D/H ratios in water consistent with the terrestrial value. These hyperactive comets, such as 46P/Wirtanen, require an additional source of water vapor in their coma, explained by the presence of subliming icy grains expelled from the nucleus. The observed correlation may suggest that hyperactive comets belong to a population of ice-rich objects that formed just outside the snow line, or in the outermost regions of the solar nebula, from water thermally reprocessed in the inner disk that was transported outward during the early disk evolution. The observed anti-correlation between the active fraction and the nucleus size seems to argue against the first interpretation, as planetesimals near the snow line are expected to undergo rapid growth. Alternatively, isotopic properties of water outgassed from the nucleus and icy grains may be different due to fractionation effects at sublimation. In this case, all comets may share the same Earth-like D/H ratio in water, with profound implications for the early solar system and the origin of Earth’s oceans.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 5:51 pm

The short “paper” might be free since it’s actually a Letter reporting results.

Reply to  Pat Frank
August 29, 2020 7:10 am

Where you have H2 and O2 you will inevitably soon have H2O.

Ian Bryce
August 28, 2020 8:55 pm

It is much easier to believe the first chapter of Genesis, that the Creator put the water there. Also, count the “days” as epoch’s.

John Tillman
Reply to  Ian Bryce
August 29, 2020 3:56 pm

That would make each “day” in Genesis 1 about 758 million years (not counting the seventh day of rest). In geology, that’s closer to an Eon than an Epoch. However, Genesis says that the days had a day, morning, and a night, evening, so the geologically long “days” don’t work.

But worse yet, the sequence of events in each day makes absolutely no sense. On Day Two, God makes the vault of heaven, a solid dome over the flat Earth. On Day Three, He separates the waters from the land, including those above and below the Earth, then He makes seed-bearing green plants. Not until Day Four does He create the Sun, so whence came daylight on the previous days?

On Day Five, He lets the waters bring forth sea creatures and the air flying creatures. But the Earth shows that marine animals long predate seed-bearing land plants. On Day Six, He makes land animals, yet it’s clear that birds and other flying creatures evolved from land animals. Then he created men and women, so at least that part of the sequence is right.

But wait! In Genesis 2, another, irreconcilably contradictory myth presents a different order of creation. In that story, God first makes a Man from dust, then plants, then animals, then a Woman, from the Man’s rib or side.

Nor does Genesis say whence came the water over which the Spirit of God is moving in the beginning.

So, no, Genesis doesn’t provide a better explanation for terrestrial water than do the scientific hypotheses as to its origin.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
August 31, 2020 5:05 am

Not until Day Four does He create the Sun, so whence came daylight on the previous days?

You skipped over the very first “day” (wonder why?) which answers the above question: Genesis 1:3 “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” 1.4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 1.5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Nor does Genesis say whence came the water over which the Spirit of God is moving in the beginning.

Again, you skip the inconvenient parts that may just answer your questions (wonder why?). Genesis 1.1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” the water would thus presumably have been created as part of the creating of heavens and earth, same as the ground on which the waters are used to demarcate land and seas. It wouldn’t be much of a creation if there was absolutely nothing there, so that rocks and water came into being with the earth’s creation isn’t really that hard to grasp, even for you, surely.

You make yourself look bad when you ask questions that are answered by the parts you deliberately omit.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Endicott
August 31, 2020 9:31 am

I didn’t skip anything relevant, and, no, the first verses don’t answer my questions, and neither can you.

The first verses are the problem. How can there be light on Earth without the Sun? Other stars are too far away. So Genesis 1 makes no sense, now that we know light comes from the Sun and that day and night are due to a rotating Earth, which is immobile and flat in the Bible, with the Sun passing over it.

I pointed out that the waters are not created in Genesis 1, so again, where did they come from? Scientists are trying to find out where Earth’s water came from, but Genesis doesn’t say anything on the topic.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
September 1, 2020 3:21 am

Yes you did, and now you are trying to paper over that omission.

How can there be light on Earth without the Sun?

It doesn’t say there was light on earth specifically, it said there was light period. It your assumption that the light has to be in the form of sun and stars, but God doesn’t separate the light into those forms until later. Just as the waters come before they were separated so to the light.

I pointed out that the waters are not created in Genesis 1

You incorrectly Assume there were not created in Genesis 1. Gensis 1 however specified the heavens and earth were created. Just because water (like rock) was not named does not mean they were not created as part of the heavens and the Earth, the heavens and the Earth are pretty darn big and not exactly monotonic you know.

Genesis doesn’t say anything on the topic

No, your pre-conceived assumption about Genesis don’t make sense because you don’t want it to make sense as your previous deliberate omissions testify. Again, you omissions speak poorly of you.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
September 1, 2020 3:33 am

Wrong cut and paste for the last quote of yours, should have been So Genesis 1 makes no sense instead of Genesis doesn’t say anything on the topic

and far as Genesis doesn’t say anything on the topic

Yes it does. It says God created the heavens and the earth (that includes the waters, the constituent components of the waters, ie hydrogen and oxygen, and every other element that exists in the universe none of which is specifically name checked either in the opening sentence so you might as well ask “well genesis doesn’t talk about the creation of argon (or any other specific element) where did argon come from?” it would be just as meaningless and missing the point as the stupid questions you did ask) in genesis 1 and is says in 9 & 10 that the waters were gathered together in one place to let dry land appears. Just because you don’t like or agree with what is says doesn’t mean it doesn’t say it.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 3, 2020 2:30 pm

Genesis specifically leaves out God’s creation of “the waters”. It starts with His spirit or breath moving over them. Then it says that he created the heavens and separated land from the waters.

It nowhere mentions molecules or elements because they were unknown when the author revised the Sumerian myth upon which the story is based, nor of course by the Sumerians.

Even John Calvin knew that the Genesis 1 creation myth wasn’t literally true. That fact didn’t bother him or Augustine, nor should it any Jew or Christian today.

August 28, 2020 8:55 pm

The Rosetta mission to Comet Churyumov- Gerasmenko that it’s water deutereum to hydrogen ratio was substantially different than Earth water. Making it unlikely Earth got it’s water from comets. Earth quite possibly got a mix of water from comets, asteroids and out gassing.

Ian Coleman
August 28, 2020 10:17 pm

I don’t care where the water came from. I’m just glad it’s here. It goes well with whiskey, which originally came from Ireland. Not that I care about that either. I’m just glad there’s whiskey.

Tell you the truth, though, I’m impressed by people who care about stuff like this. I just say, God did it, and that works for me. And why does God allow sickness and suffering and evil? I don’t know. When I asked Him, He didn’t answer.

By the way, this had better be the original David Middleton. Because there’s a fake one out there somewhere.

Ian Coleman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 12:52 pm

Congratulations, Mr. Middleton, as you are the knowledgeable and wise and candid David Middleton. Somebody using your name has been lurking around here lately.

I have also worked in the oil industry in my youth. I surveyed pipelines and wellsites. I wouldn’t know geology from geophysics unless you gave them different haircuts.

The Irish and the Americans spell it “whiskey,” and the Canadians and the Scots spell it “whisky.” I just drink it without regard to the presence or absence of the letter e.

Reply to  Ian Coleman
August 31, 2020 2:56 am

To ignore that “e” is to walk on very thin ice. Single malt Scots take a very dim view of copies.

August 29, 2020 12:05 am

One of the primary sources of Earth’s water is penetration by solar wind.

proton+oxygen+proton is water.


Its why the free O2 in the atmosphere has been dropping non-stop for hundreds of millions of years.

Remember, all glaciers are displacing their mass in magma.

Reply to  Prjindigo
August 29, 2020 2:33 pm

The amount of oxygen in the atmosphere has been dropping for a long time because there has been little sequestration of carbon since the Cretaceous.

The current icehouse climate with vigorous thermohaline circulation and well oxygenated deep seas means that there is very little organic material being deposited in the deep ocean, and this will be so as long as Antarctica remains glaciated and generating AADW (Antarctic Deep Water).

Mike From Au
August 29, 2020 3:24 am

The Hydroplate Theory is very interesting with respect to the subject of water.

“Hydroplate Theory: Origin of the Grand Canyon
“•May 30, 2018

John Tillman
Reply to  Mike From Au
August 29, 2020 4:00 pm

Sorry, but the Grand Canyon is a lot older than 4000 years, ie a few hundred years after Noah’s mythical Flood.

Errant nonsense.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
August 31, 2020 7:34 am

Perhaps. Your asserting, however, doesn’t make it so. just as that videos assertion don’t make them so. Fact is no one alive was there 4000 years ago or 4 million years ago or however long ago your favorite theory posits the Grand Canyon formation as occurring. All we have are assumptions, estimates and guesses (hopefully intelligent, well-informed assumptions, estimates and guesses, but assumptions, estimates and guesses non-the-less). Calling things “errant nonsense” without any attempt at explaining why, however doesn’t even reach that level, it just reveals your own biases (just as the biases of that video are pretty obvious).

John Tillman
Reply to  John Endicott
September 2, 2020 10:09 am

It’s not an assertion, but a fact.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
September 3, 2020 6:47 am

Asserting it’s a fact doesn’t make it so. It still remains an assertion.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Endicott
September 2, 2020 10:18 am

As for human witnesses to the Grand Canyon, people were there at least 11,500 years ago.

Even its archaeology, let alone geology, biology, chemistry and physics, shows the video’s lunacy ludicrous.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Tillman
September 3, 2020 6:50 am

As for human witnesses to the Grand Canyon, people were there at least 11,500 years ago.

And what did they say about it to you? That’s right, nothing. You have no clue what they saw 11,500 years ago because *you* and every other living person was not there back than and those who may have been there back the did not leave any account of what they saw.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 3, 2020 2:43 pm


All of science deals with physical evidence, not with stories told by beings living millions of years ago. How would anyone know whether these creatures were telling the truth, if all we had was there word on it?

But archaeological finds can be dated, and so can rocks. The rate at which sediment accumulates can be measured.

All the liar in your video has going for him is a myth made up thousands of years ago, without a shred of physical evidence. Indeed, all the evidence in the world is against a global flood some 4500 years ago.

The Grand Canyon is now well dated. It formed in stages, with its oldest part being about 70 million years old, another section some 20 Ma and the most recent part, connecting all the others, around five to six Ma. This last bit was cut by runoff from snow on the Rockies, as climate cooled in the late Miocene and Pliocene.

The GC results from water erosion on the uplifting Colorado Plateau. Its youngest rocks are the Kaibab Rim, from the Permian Period, before 250 Ma. Its Vishnu Basement rocks are Early Paleoproterozoic, up to 1840 Ma. A few unconformities, ie missing layers, separate the more recent, higher Paleozoic layers and the lower Proterozoic strata from each other.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
September 3, 2020 6:42 pm

“Their” word. Dreaded autocorrect.

August 29, 2020 6:10 am

That’s it. I’ve had it and enough is enough!

I put it all there.

Reply to  God
August 29, 2020 8:10 am


We are just talking about “how” You did it, not “if” you did it.

Thank You,


On the outer Barcoo
August 29, 2020 8:33 am

How many folk are familiar with carbonatitic volcanism and how many geologists have actually smacked a carbonatite in the field?

William Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
August 31, 2020 7:38 pm

And all of Saturn’s moons have large quantities of water ice. For example, Saturn’s moon Enceladus is thought to have a mantle rich in water ice, surrounding a silicate core. Geysers of water vapor were detected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, spraying out of cracks at Enceladus’ southern pole.

Most of the water on Mars today is likely frozen away in its polar caps. If all this water ice were to melt, estimates suggest that a sphere the size of the red planet might be covered in about 100 feet (30 meters) of water, said Suniti Karunatillake, a planetary scientist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Frozen water may not just exist at high latitudes at the martian poles, but also at mid-latitudes. For example, in 2015, scientists discovered that a giant slab of ice as big as California and Texas combined is buried just beneath the surface of Mars between its equator and north pole and covered in protective layers of dust.

Mars also has water in the form of hydrated minerals — that is, minerals that have water chemically bound to them. Future crewed missions to Mars could extract this water by heating the hydrated minerals.

NASA Chief Excited About “Billions Of Tons” Of Water Ice On The Moon
The findings mark the first time scientists have confirmed by direct observation the presence of water on the moon’s surface – in hundreds of patches of ice deposited in the darkest and coldest reaches of its polar regions.

John Tillman
Reply to  William Abbott
September 2, 2020 10:08 am

We don’t know how much water ice lies underground on Mars. For all anyone knows, its mass might dwarf the polar ice caps.

William Abbott
Reply to  John Tillman
September 6, 2020 5:31 am

The research, published in Science Advances, notes that the rust may be a result of water discovered on the moon, but it’s still shocking, given the lack of oxygen and dearth of water on Earth’s celestial satellite.

The moon is ‘rusting’ and scientists are stunned

John Endicott
Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
August 31, 2020 7:42 am

how many geologists have actually smacked a carbonatite in the field?

is that what passes for kinky in the geology circles?

August 29, 2020 10:07 am

The water from comets theory has always been stupid.
A manifestation of “deus ex machina” thinking, like CO2 global warming. As if important development on the surface have to come magically from outside. Time for some maturity.

William Abbott
Reply to  Phil Salmon
August 29, 2020 10:41 am

Water from comets is not a theory, it is an observation. It is a repeatable experiment.

August 29, 2020 12:24 pm

I take offense that some people at this site think that water from comets is not possible. The idea that most water on Earth is from comets was and still is the idea of some astronomers from the U.K. This idea is not at all new as Sir Fred Hoyle, a hugely respected astronomer suggested this more that five decades ago. Also, in Dr. Hoyle’s absence ( he died a number of years ago), a number of other highly regarded astronomers believe the same thing, but I guess if you wish to think of this as a new idea, go right ahead, as long as it is given some consideration, something this theory deserves.

William Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 1:47 pm

What about the water on Mercury and Pluto? The water on the moon? But most importantly the water ice on the smallest planetary bodies. Without significant gravity there can’t be surface water ice, but there it is. The solar system’s small comet flux is appearently responsible.

Frank’s repeatable observations of small comets have never refuted, they have been denied. Frank is dead, but the data still speaks. No one wants to listen.

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 4:17 pm

Yup, the region whence comets come.

William Abbott
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 7:02 pm

We agree that there is quite a bit of water on the moon and Mercury’s surface? Wouldn’t those extensive volumes of water ice be essentially transitory? Given the gravity and temperatures, the lack of atmosphere, etc. The volume of planetary water on all sizes of planetary objects is evidentially massive and it’s presence universal. These are recent discoveries. These discoveries of planetary water support Frank’s discovery. Discovery, not theory, of small comets.

We don’t have any HD ratios for small comets, yet. And in any case it’s a weak, not conclusive, argument. It is speculation about an assumed consistency.

John Endicott
Reply to  David Middleton
August 31, 2020 7:40 am

Define your use of “extensive volumes” and “massive”. Compared to the Earth, Mars and the moon are quite barren of surface water.

The Depraved and MOST Deplorable (and still asleep) Vlad the Impaler
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 1:49 pm

Serious question: did I not see that recently the signature of methyl alcohol (CH3OH) has been detected in either interstellar space, or some nebula (or nebular material) or associated with some cometary debris (NEOWISE comes to mind … … ) ?

Thanks in advance, with Best Regards to all,


PS: “EC, phone home.”

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
August 29, 2020 4:12 pm

Wouldn’t recommend consuming methanol, however.

Reply to  Rod Chilton
August 29, 2020 5:38 pm

Test reply to see if my previous post is lost.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 30, 2020 12:35 am

Please recover one of my last 2 posts.
Thank you

Patrick H.
August 29, 2020 3:10 pm

Might it be possible that Hydrogen in the solar wind mixes with Oxygen on our upper atmosphere making H20?
Just a thought. More of a question than anything.

Mickey Reno
August 29, 2020 7:36 pm

Does not the at least a vast majority of the water need to be present in the orbital “accretion disc” from which the Earth originally formed? Some small amounts were undoubtedly added by Kyper objects colliding with the Earth over time. The body that collided with the Earth to form the moon probably formed a very similar orbit, accreting of that body probably also contained a similar percentage of water.

Nothing else makes much sense, and requires Velikovsky-esque physics.

Daniel Ambrose
August 30, 2020 5:42 am

One of my wild ideas is that the majority of the water came from life itself. Life biologically byproduct created the water like a global size Terrarium

John Tillman
Reply to  Daniel Ambrose
August 31, 2020 9:36 am

Life started in water, so it was already here. The question in origin of life research is in which bodies of water it arose, ie oceans or ponds on land.

August 31, 2020 12:50 am

“I take offense that some people at this site think that water from comets is not possible.”
Not me, not only do I think that comet impact is possible, I consider it likely that an event of this type has occurred during the time span of the human species. The issue I have from a geological perspective however is twofold, the frequency of these events and their magnitude.
1. Comet impacts tend to make a nasty mess.
2. Their results can be detected in the geological strata if you know where to look and how to look (with what detection tools).
By simple calculation we can estimate the number of comets required to deliver the volume of water we observe on the surface of the Earth. Using the following scoping numbers for estimation:
The surface area of the planet is 197 Million square miles.
71% is covered by ocean so the surface area of the ocean is 139 Million square miles.
The average depth of the ocean is 2.27 miles (12,000 feet)
This means that the total volume of water in the oceans is 317 Million cubic miles.
We need to add to this the ice continent of Antarctica.
Area of Antarctica is 5.4 Million square miles.
Average thickness of the icecap is 1.2 miles.
Total volume of Antarctic ice is 6.4 Million cubic miles.
This means that we have 323 Million cubic miles of water and ice on the Earth’s surface.
(I will treat Greenland as a rounding error.)

Next, we need to look at the proposed water delivery mechanism. Pick a comet, Halley’s comet will do. Total mass of Halley’s comet is 300 Billion tonnes, this is a goodly number and it converts to a volume of 72 Cubic miles of ice, if we assume that all of the comet’s mass is water (it is not, but this is a scoping exercise). With a planetary surface water volume of 323 Million cubic miles we will need to order 4.4 million Halley’s comets from Nebulazon (our local but not so friendly solar water bank) to fill the world’s oceans and to stock Antarctica with pre-frozen ice.
But what about the delivery rate? At an Earth age of 4.6 billion years we are looking at one Halley’s comet per thousand years (give or take) – I think we would have noticed. Smaller comets? More of them. Bigger comets? A much bigger splash. Want to pack all the comets in at once? The kinetic energy release alone makes this untenable, the heat created and the ejecta produced will just send the water back into space. So, no I don’t buy comet delivery as a credible mechanism that accounts for all of the Earth’s ocean water.

John Tillman
Reply to  Philip Mulholland
August 31, 2020 9:33 am

Not to mention all the subsurface water not in the oceans or ice.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
August 31, 2020 9:42 am

Especially in the mantle. So there would have to have been about twice as many comets.

Karl Johan Grimstad
September 2, 2020 9:49 am

What happens when Methane breaks down in the atmosphere? yes it will be water and CO2 my suggestion 😉

John Tillman
Reply to  Karl Johan Grimstad
September 2, 2020 10:06 am

Only if there be O2 in the air.

September 9, 2020 8:33 am

I asked this question of a national mag column and they published the answer: from comets. Of course, that was over a decade ago.

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