How was the ocean created?



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    The large amount of water on Earth can never have been produced by volcanism and degassing alone. It is assumed the water was derived from impacting comets that contained ice. Though most comets are today in orbits further away from the Sun than Neptune, computer simulations show they were originally far more common in the inner parts of the solar system. However, most of the water on Earth was probably derived from small impacting protoplanets, objects comparable with today’s small icy moons of the outer planets. Impacts of these objects can have enriched the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars) with water, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, nitrogen and other volatiles. If all water in the Earth’s oceans was derived from comets alone, a million impacting comets are required to explain the oceans. Computer simulations show this is not an unreasonable number.

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