Evolution of the atmosphere
Holland, Heinrich D. Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:September 2020
Show previous versions
- Origin of free oxygen
- Biologic evidence
- Evidence from sediments
- Evidence from gaseous emissions
- Rise of oxygen pressure
- Rare gases other than helium
- Other gases
- Three stages of evolution
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Variation with time of the chemical composition and total weight of the Earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere is a most tenuous envelope; its mass is less than one-millionth that of the solid Earth; its density even at sea level is less than one-thousandth that of rocks, and virtually all of the atmosphere is below a height only one-hundredth of an earth radius above the surface of the Earth. But the atmosphere is taken so much for granted that one tends to be surprised at the thought that it has a history, that its chemical composition and total weight have varied through time (Fig. 1). On reflection, it would, however, be odd to find that the atmosphere has not changed during the long years of the Earth's existence, and that its weight and composition have not responded to the complicated series of events that have left such clear marks on the Earth's crust.
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information