The water on our planet turns out to be of vital importance for the life of all the organisms that inhabit it. Thus, the presence of seas, oceans and continental waters have fostered the evolution of all beings on Earth, conditioning their way of life, their habitat and even their diet.
The origin of water on planet Earth
Planet Earth has many years of history and has undergone a wide variety of environmental changes throughout its history as a habitable planet. But before there was even the slightest hint of life and water, the Earth was nothing more than a mass of conglomerate rocks.
Thus, according to the most accepted theory today, we can say that the origin of water begins about four billion years ago , when this rocky congregation that made up our planet began to heat up inside, and caused by high temperatures, began to form small reactions between oxygen and hydrogen atoms (which are the components of water). The molecules formed by these reactions were expelled to the surface very little by little in the form of vapor over millions of years, forming a new atmosphere. Subsequently, the temperature of the Earth began to decrease, in such a way that the gaseous compounds that had been released during the last millions of years began to precipitate in a liquid state., forming the water we know today.
Even so, there is another theory that, although it was widely criticized at first, recent studies are beginning to support. This, attributes the origin of the water outside the planet Earth , that is to say, it supports the proposition that numerous meteorites, called carbonaceous chondrites, that impacted our planet, had water in their interior in a solid state, that is, ice.
Although there are discrepancies about the origin of water on Earth, it is estimated that it occurred approximately three thousand nine hundred million years ago , and it was thanks to this element and the previous and consequent atmospheric changes, that little by little life began to form in our planet. If it had not been for the presence of water, the Earth would still be a rocky planet like Venus, Mars and Mercury.
For this reason, we can consider that approximately in the middle of the Archaic Era, the first oceans began to be constituted , which due to the formations of the continental crust, surround the first supercontinents that settled on Earth, such as Vaalbará, Ur or Kenorland. Thus, we can say that there was a great and unique ocean that surrounded the tectonic plates in full formation and development.
Throughout the Proterozoic Eon, in which there were great glaciations, the great and unique continent began to fragment a little more and more, becoming known as Columbia and later Rodinia. During this process, the great ocean that surrounds this great formation of grouped continents is called the Mirovia superocean , which in Russian means ‘global’.
From the Paleozoic, it forms the great continent Pannotia, which has a shape similar to a ‘V’. It is from the formation of this continent that we begin to differentiate the great ocean that surrounded it in two , in the upper part the Panthalassa Ocean (the current Pacific Ocean), and in the lower part the great ancient Pan-African ocean.
Pannotia was a continent with a very short duration, since immediately afterwards, the supercontinent Pangea was formed , surrounded by the Panthalassa ocean to the north and east, but also by new ones such as the Iapetus, Janty, Reico or Ural oceans.
Pangea was a continent that went through three different phases during the Mesozoic, in which parts of the continent were fragmented, allowing new seas and oceans to open up. Thus, with this type of tectonic movement, the continents, seas and oceans gradually formed , modified, differentiated and narrowed and widened until they reached the formations that we know today.
The importance of the formation of the oceans – the great step to life
Water is an element obtained from nature, as well as one of the main components of many of the planet’s natural ecosystems. It is an absolutely fundamental molecule for the support and development of life on Earth since it is essential for a great variety of basic biological processes in living beings.
As we have seen before, the accumulation of water over several thousand years led to the formation of the oceans, but what is really incredible is that it turns out to be the place where most experts postulate that life began. Thus, the appearance of water involved much more than the development of a new planet with completely different conditions, since it was also the cradle of the origin of life .
It is estimated that this phenomenon occurred about 2.7 billion years ago , at the bottom of some ocean or marine space with the ideal conditions. This theory, commonly known as the endosymbiosis theory, was postulated by evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis in 1967, and is based on the fusion of various cells to obtain more complex characteristics. In other words, almost three billion years ago, in the depths of the seabed, in precise heat conditions and with the presence of elements such as sulfur, there was a time when two unique and different cells one by one another merged, obtaining a new cell that met the characteristics of the predecessors. From there, there began to be a greatrise of unifications with more complex cells , with different characteristics and with organelles that could be beneficial for them. In summary, it can be said that the oceans became the home of many bacteria, archaea and anaerobic algae that were formed thanks to the ideal conditions of the moment. From there, many of these organisms began to photosynthesize, that is, they fed on sunlight and converted it into oxygen. This led to many changes in the planet’s atmosphere and led to the evolution of these beings over many millions of years ending up reaching the development of species as complex as us.