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Earth's Early Ocean
Once the Earth began to cool, water vapor, one of the volatiles, began to condense and form an ocean. According to the
theory, Earth is at just the right distance from the sun for the temperature of the surface to be appropriate for the formation of liquid water. The presence of running water influenced the rest of the gases in the atmosphere, which began to dissolve into the forming ocean. By this time Earth was busy generating its secondary atmosphere
. These atmospheric gases came out of a volcano. All volcanoes are different but in general those gases would include H2
S, HCl, N2
Gases such as CO2, SO2, and HCl form acids when dissolved in water. Such acids would immediately be neutralized via
reaction with the surface minerals of the Earth, but the addition of so much acid to both the land and sea changed the pH of the ocean and surface from a reducing environment (hydrogen-based) to an oxidizing environment (oxygen-based).
Scientists think that the Earth's secondary atmosphere may have come to be dominated by N2 because it alone does not readily dissolve in water.
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