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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.

Exploratour - The Archean Age

This is an image of Mt. St. Helens, in Washington, USA.
Click on image for full size
Image from: USGS, courtesy of Volcano World

The activity of all the volcanoes helped the Earth form an atmosphere.

Scientists think that the atmosphere we breathe today is nothing like the atmosphere the Earth started with. In fact scientists think that 99% of today's atmosphere is new compared to the original air, which might have been what formed with the Earth out of the cloud shown on page 1 of this tour. Thus scientists call the atmosphere of the Archean a secondary atmosphere, which evolved into the atmosphere we have today.

Scientists think that the secondary atmosphere came from the many volcanic eruptions which took place in Earth's early history, and which continue today. All volcanoes are different but in general they release gases such as H2O, CO2, SO2, H2S, HCl, N2, NO2. These molecules are not the Nitrogen and Oxygen which are the majority of gases in the air today, however. In fact, oxygen, which is what humans and other animals require to survive , was not a part of the Earth's earliest atmosphere! This means that Earth's earliest environment was anerobic, that is without oxygen. Oxygen came into the atmosphere later.

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Exploratour - The Archean Age

The Archean is the name of the age which began with the forming Earth, as illustrated in this picture. This period of Earth's history lasted a long time, 2.8 billion years! That is more than half the...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA