The terrestrial atmosphere is a thin layer of gas (Fig. 2.1) which protects the surface of our planet from lethal interactions with outer space and permits the ambient temperature to be maintained between that of boiling water and ice. It is a nicely tuned system that has been autoregulating its composition and temperature for billions of years.

The volatile elements discussed here are those defined as atmophile elements by Viktor Moritz Goldschmidt. They include H, C, N, S, halogens, and noble gases. It is more appropriate to refer to them as the surface inventory of volatiles rather than...

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