The gases which formed the Earth's atmosphere - and probably its oceans - did not come from inside the Earth but from outer space, according to a study by University of Manchester and University of Houston scientists.
The report published this week in the prestigious international journal 'Science' means that textbook images of ancient Earth with huge volcanoes spewing gas into the atmosphere will have to be rethought.
According to the team, the age-old view that volcanoes were the source of the Earth's earliest atmosphere must be put to rest.
Using world-leading analytical techniques, the team of Dr Greg Holland, Dr Martin Cassidy and Professor Chris Ballentine tested volcanic gases to uncover the new evidence.
The research was funded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
"We found a clear meteorite signature in volcanic gases," said Dr Greg Holland the project's lead scientist.
Full article/source - http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-12/uom-eac120809.php