The new geochemical tool reveals the origin of Earth’s nitrogen

New Geochemical Tool

When Nitrogen came into being?

When you take a breath, inhale 78% part of the air in the shape of a gas which is an essential part of a lot of fertilizers and many other products. It is also an essential part of protein and DNA called nitrogen. Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere and the main component of the air we breathe. Nitrogen found in rocks, including hidden rocks deep in the planet. Researchers have used a new geochemical tool to shed light on the origin of nitrogen and other volatile elements on Earth. Which may also prove useful as a way to monitor the activity of volcanoes.

Until now, when measuring gas from volcanoes, it is difficult to distinguish the nitrogen source from the air source in the mantle. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria also play their roles to shift the percentage of nitrogen from earth to the atmosphere.  Nitrogen is volatile and is the most abundant gas on the earth almost four times than oxygen. It can exist in the presence of radiations without reacting to the solid material of the earth. That’s why the bigger part of the percentage of air composition is nitrogen i.e. 78%. 

Origin of Nitrogen

Nitrogen originates from that region where the plates of the mantle are converging. During the eruption of volcanoes, many gases are released in which nitrogen is also present. In comparison with Venus and Mars, earth has more % age of nitrogen. Other planets do not have layer tectonics that is why they are lacking nitrogen. Nitrogen is present in the form of liquid ammonium in certain planets.

Recent Research regarding Origin of Nitrogen

At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The researchers and their colleagues used a new geochemical tool to illuminate the sources of nitrogen and other volatile elements found around the world. It is also useful for monitoring volcanic activity. Their findings were published in Nature (Journal) on April 16, 2020.

“We found that air pollution masked the original ‘source properties’ of many volcanic gas samples,” said Peter Barry, a WHOI geochemist who co-wrote the study.

Without this distinction, scientists will not be able to answer basic questions such as Nitrogen removed from the formation of the world? What is the relationship between nitrogen in the atmosphere and nitrogen in volcanoes?

Barry and UCLA lead author Jabrane Labidi (currently a researcher at the Paris Geophysical Institute). Use a new tool to analyze volcanic gas samples from all over the world including gases from Iceland and Yellowstone National Park in collaboration with international geochemists. This new method for the judgment of the origin of nitrogen is “clump” of nitrogen isotopes. This method provides a unique way to identify nitrogen molecules from the air. This allows researchers to see the true gas composition deep within the mantle. This new geochemical tool has revealed evidence that nitrogen may have been present in the mantle since the early days of formation of our planet.

Barry says: “We will have gained new and valuable information about the origin of nitrogen and the evolution of the world. When the problem of air pollution resolved.”

Advantage of the Research

This new method helps scientists understand the origin of volatile elements on Earth. It can also use as a useful method for monitoring volcanic activity. This is because the composition of the gas exiting from the center of the volcano changes before the explosion. A mixture of the mantle and air nitrogen can use one day as a sign of an explosion.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here