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How low can you go? Maximum constraints on hydrogen concentrations prior to the Great Oxidation Event

Shawn Domagal-Goldman
Shawn Domagal-Goldman
Research Space Scientist, Planetary Environments Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA
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May 01, 2014

Shaw postulates that Earth's early atmosphere was rich in reducing gases such as hydrogen, brought to Earth via impact events. This commentary seeks to place constraints on this idea through a very brief review of existing geological and geochemical upper limits on the reducing power of Earth's atmosphere prior to the rise of oxygen. While these constraints place tight limits on this idea for rocks younger than 3.8 Ga, few constraints exist prior to that time, due to a paucity of rocks of that age. The time prior to these constraints is also a time frame for which the proposal is most plausible, and for which it carries the greatest potential to explain other mysteries. Given this potential, several tests are suggested for the H2-rich early Earth hypothesis.

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GSA Special Papers

Earth's Early Atmosphere and Surface Environment

George H. Shaw
George H. Shaw
Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady, New York 12308, USA
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
May 01, 2014



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