Scientists had long suggested water was delivered to our planet by a comet or an asteroid millions of years after its formation. When Earth first formed, it was much closer to the Sun, meaning it was much hotter, so the idea it had water from the very beginning was ruled out.
However, new research suggests our planet may have had water from the start, according to scientists who have been analysing the composition of our planet.
According to the research published in the journal Science, experts from the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques in Nancy, France, analysed 13 different enstatite chondrite (EC) meteorites.
These meteorites are similar in structure to the space rocks and dust which helped Earth to form 4.6 billion years ago.
The study found these meteorites, which were assumed to be bone dry, were actually packed with hydrogen – the main element of water.
After running the calculations, the team found there was so much hydrogen packed in the rocks of our early planet Earth may have even contained three times as much water as the present-day oceans hold.
The study reads: “The origin of Earth’s water remains unknown. Enstatite chondrite (EC) meteorites have similar isotopic composition to terrestrial rocks and thus may be representative of the material that formed Earth.
“ECs are presumed to be devoid of water because they formed in the inner Solar System.
“Earth’s water is therefore generally attributed to the late addition of a small fraction of hydrated materials, such as carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, which originated in the outer Solar System where water was more abundant.
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However, whether today’s water is the same as the water which may have formed 4.6 billion years ago is unclear, according to Ms Peslier.
She argues the planet’s initial water, if it was there, may have been evaporated quickly by the closer Sun.
But Ms Peslier said: “Nevertheless, the authors’ work brings a crucial and elegant element to this puzzle.
“Earth’s water may simply have come from the nebular material from which the planet accreted.”