Skip to main content

Water on Earth: Physicochemical and Biological Properties

Water on Earth: Physicochemical and Biological Properties

Christophe Lécuyer

ISBN: 978-1-118-57493-5

Dec 2013, Wiley-ISTE

272 pages

$124.99

Description

The presence of water on Earth is discussed in this book using various theories about its origin as a basis. These theories include a massive degassing of the primitive parent bodies that built our planet as well as a late addition from comets that collided with the Earth’s surface. The extraordinary physico-chemical properties of the water molecules, combined with its abundance and distribution over the Earth’s surface, have contributed to regulating the global climate and favoring species’ evolution for more than 4 billion years. The early emergence of life in the deep ocean and its further diversification were closely linked to the global water cycle whose dynamics result from the energy balance between solar radiation and the internal heat flux of the Earth.

Chapter 1 of this book deals with the extraordinary physico-chemical properties of the water molecule while Chapter 2 provides insight on theories regarding the origin of water on Earth. In the third chapter, the author focuses on the chemical composition of the main water reservoirs of our planet. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss water’s relationship with plate tectonics and life, respectively. The sixth and final chapter uses stable isotope tracking to look into the water cycle and past climates.

Contents

1. Water: A Molecule Endowed with Extraordinary Physicochemical Properties.
2. Theories about the Origin of Water on Earth.
3. The Main Water Reservoirs on Earth and their Chemical Composition.
4. Water and Plate Tectonics.
5. Water and Life.
6. Stable Isotope Tracking: Water Cycles and Climates of the Past.

The presence of water on Earth is discussed on the basis of the various theories about its origin such as a massive degassing of the primitive parent bodies that built our planet as well as a late addition from comets that collided with its surface. The extraordinary physico-chemical properties of the water molecule combined with its abundance and distribution over the Earth’s surface have contributed to regulating the global climate and favoring the evolution of species for more than 4 billion years. The early emergence of life in the deep ocean and its further diversification were closely linked to the global water cycle whose dynamics result from the energy balance between solar radiation and the internal heat flux of the Earth.

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

Chapter 1. Water: A Molecule Endowed with Extraordinary Physicochemical Properties 1

1.1. Molecular geometry and electrical properties 1

1.2. Phase diagram 3

1.3. Stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen 11

1.4. Thermodynamic properties 12

1.4.1. Conduction of heat 20

1.5. Optical properties 20

1.5.1. Turbidity, ternary mixtures and the “Ouzo” effect 23

1.6. Underwater propagation of sound 28

1.7. Synthesis and electrolysis 30

1.8. Bibliography 32

Chapter 2. Theories about the Origin of Water on Earth 35

2.1. The blue planet of the solar system 35

2.2. Comets 38

2.3. Carbonaceous chondrites and icy asteroids 42

2.4. Small magnitude evolution of the D/H ratio of the oceans 47

2.5. Chemical composition of the primordial Earth’s oceans 49

2.5.1. The early huge “greenhouse effect” 49

2.5.2. pH and redox state of the primordial Earth’s oceans 50

2.5.3. Archean ultramafic rocks: a trap for carbon dioxide 52

2.5.4. The salinity of the primordial Earth’s oceans 53

2.6. Bibliography 55

Chapter 3. The Main Water Reservoirs on Earth and their Chemical Composition 57

3.1. Masses of water reservoirs 57

3.1.1. Ice caps 60

3.1.2. Groundwaters 61

3.1.3. Rivers 63

3.1.4. Lakes 65

3.1.5. Brackish waters 67

3.1.6. Oceans 68

3.1.7. Salinity 70

3.1.8. The definition of water masses 73

3.1.9. The wind-driven surface ocean circulation 76

3.1.10. Thermohaline circulation: the global ocean conveyor 80

3.2. The superficial hydrological cycle, water fluxes and residence times 83

3.3. Chemical composition of rivers 85

3.4. Ocean chemical composition 90

3.4.1. Dissolved salts 90

3.4.2. Dissolved gases 91

3.4.3. Variations of dissolved O2 and CO2 with oceanic depth 94

3.4.4. Brief concept of alkalinity 94

3.4.5. The oceanic carbon pump and the pH of seawater 94

3.5. Chemical composition of rainfall 96

3.6. Why are oceans salty? 100

3.7. Hypersaline waters 102

3.7.1. The Dead Sea 103

3.7.2. Mono Lake, USA 105

3.8. Geothermal waters and the “petrifying springs” 107

3.9. Bibliography 109

Chapter 4. Water and Plate Tectonics 113

4.1. A brief introduction to the theory of “plate tectonics” 113

4.2. Catastrophic events related to global tectonics: tsunamis 115

4.3. Oceanic hydrothermal activity 123

4.4. Water in the Earth’s mantle 137

4.4.1. Water in nominally anhydrous minerals 137

4.4.2. IR spectroscopy or how to see water traces in mantle minerals 139

4.5. Subduction and volcanic activity 141

4.6. Continental growth and recycling 146

4.7. Bibliography 151

Chapter 5. Water and Life 155

5.1. Cell functioning and metabolic activity 155

5.1.1. Human body water, blood and pH 156

5.1.2. Cell functioning 157

5.1.3. Body water balance 158

5.1.4. Body heat balance 159

5.2. Adaptation and readaptation of tetrapods to the aquatic environment 159

5.3. Biodiversity in the aquatic environment 169

5.3.1. Freshwater biodiversity 170

5.3.2. Marine biodiversity 172

5.4. Bibliography 176

Chapter 6. Stable Isotope Tracking: Water Cycles and Climates of the Past 181

6.1. Principles of stable isotope fractionation between substances 181

6.1.1. Quantum mechanics and isotopic fractionation 181

6.1.2. Physicochemical processes responsible for isotopic fractionation 183

6.1.3. Techniques of stable isotope measurements of aqueous solutions 189

6.1.4. The “salt effect” and the isotopic measurement of brines 190

6.2. The surface water cycle 192

6.2.1. Isotopic fractionations during water evaporation and condensation 197

6.2.2. Precipitation 199

6.2.3. The concept of “amount effect” 205

6.2.4. Geographic distribution of rainfall δD and δ18O values 206

6.2.5. δD and δ18O variations of rainfall with altitude 208

6.2.6. Rainfall δD and δ18O values as a function of air temperature 210

6.2.7. The δ18O of the sea surface waters 214

6.2.8. S and δ18O relationships in the ocean 216

6.2.9. S and δ18O relationships in the coastal waters 217

6.3. The stable isotope memory of fossil biominerals 220

6.3.1. Isotopic fractionation equation between biominerals and water 220

6.3.2. Robustness of the isotopic record through time 224

6.3.3. Tracking the ecology of extinct vertebrate species 228

6.3.4. The aquatic environments of the Jurassic turtles of Western Europe 230

6.3.5. Isotopic records of long-term climate changes 233

6.3.6. Variations in the δD and δ18O of polar ice caps 234

6.3.7. Isotopic records of climatic seasonal variations 239

6.4. Aqueous inclusions trapped in minerals 245

6.5. Bibliography 250

Index 255