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December 4 2012

Fossilized Raindrops May Help Resolve Early Earth Paradox


SAN FRANCISCO The young Earth may not have been a churning ball of scalding hot water, but a planet slightly cooler than today with more temperate oceans, according to two new studies.

The studies, presented Monday (Dec. 3) here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, may shed light on the paradox of the faint young sun: Why, despite the sun being 70 percent as bright as it is now, the early Earth during the Archean Eon (about 2.5 billion to 4 billion years ago) wasn't a giant snowball. Rather, it had a vast liquid water ocean filled with primitive microbes, ancestors to modern-day methane-producing and sulfur-eating microbes.

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