Scientists looking for the origin of Earth’s water have been studying the composition of meteorites.  According to current theories of planet formation the earth was formed by gas, dust and rocky objects called planetesimals coalescing to form a solid rocky planet, and this process results in the formation of a hot molten mass that must cool down before it can have liquid water. Yet a University of Maryland press release states: “Water makes up 71% of Earth’s surface, but no one knows how or when such massive quantities of water arrived on Earth.” 

One theory is that water was brought to earth by meteorites from the outer solar system, where it is cold enough to have liquid and frozen water.  A group of scientists in USA have studied a type of meteorite called achondrites, which are similar to igneous rocks on earth, i.e. melted and recrystalised. 

Megan Newcombe of University of Maryland, who led the study explained: “We wanted to understand how our planet managed to get water because it’s not completely obvious. Getting water and having surface oceans on a planet that is small and relatively near the sun is a challenge.”

The research team found the achondrites they studied contained almost no water.  They concluded that these meteorites could not have brought water to earth as they had been melted and any water they may have contained would have been lost in the melting and recrystalising process.  The research team wrote: “This finding implies that substantial amounts of water could only have been delivered to Earth by means of unmelted material.”

Unmelted meteorites are called carbonaceous chondrites, and are known to contain water, but once they have landed they become contaminated with matter from the earth, especially if they are left in the ground for a long time. 

Recently scientists were able to study one of these in almost pristine condition after one crashed to earth in February 2021.  The meteorite broke up and pieces landed in and around the town of Winchcombe in the UK.  Because fragments were collected straight away scientists had a good opportunity to study their structure and content with very little contamination from earth’s environment. 

An international team of scientists has now carried out a detailed analysis of the meteorite and found it did contain water with a very similar isotope combination as earth’s water.  The research team concluded: “The near-pristine hydrogen isotopic composition of the Winchcombe meteorite is comparable to the terrestrial hydrosphere, providing further evidence that volatile-rich carbonaceous asteroids played an important role in the origin of Earth’s water.”

References: BBC News 22 November 2023; Science Advances 13 November 2022, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abq3925; ScienceDaily 15 March 2023; University of Maryland 15 March 2023, Nature doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05721-5

Editorial Comment:  The fact that some space rocks contain water with similar isotope composition does prove they are made of the same substance, but it certainly does not prove they are the source of the earth’s water. Furthermore, there is no evidence the earth began as a hot molten blob formed by colliding planetesimals. 

Scientists can only study the earth in its present form.  To know what it was made of in the beginning they need the record of those who were when it come into existence– the Creator God and the angels who sang for joy (Job 38:4-7).  The Creator Jesus Christ, has left a clear straightforward record of the creation of the earth, and this tells us it was already covered with water when it was created.  (Genesis 1:1-2)

Creation Research News 4 May 2023

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