• Theories about what was in the Earth’s early atmosphere and how
  1. the atmosphere was formed have changed and developed over time. Evidence for the early atmosphere is limited because of the time scale of 4.6 billion years.
  2. One theory suggests that during the first billion years of the Earth’s existence there was intense volcanic activity that released gases that formed the early atmosphere and water vapour that condensed to form the oceans. At the start of this period the Earth’s atmosphere may have been like the atmospheres of Mars and Venus today, consisting of mainly carbon dioxide with little or no oxygen gas.
  3. Volcanoes also produced nitrogen which gradually built up in the atmosphere and there may have been small proportions of methane and ammonia.
  4. When the oceans formed carbon dioxide dissolved in the water and carbonates were precipitated producing sediments, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. No knowledge of other theories is required.
  5. Students should be able to, given appropriate information, interpret evidence and evaluate different theories about the Earth’s early atmosphere.

WS 1.1Understand how scientific methods and theories develop over time.

WS 1.2 Use a variety of models such as representational, spatial, descriptive, computational and mathematical to solve problems, make predictions and to develop scientific explanations and understanding of familiar and unfamiliar facts.

WS 1.3 Appreciate the power and limitations of science and consider any ethical issues which may arise

WS 3.5 Interpreting observations and other data (presented in verbal, diagrammatic, graphical, symbolic or numerical form), including identifying patterns and trends, making inferences and drawing conclusions.

WS 3.6 Presenting reasoned explanations including relating data to hypotheses.

WS 4.1 Use scientific vocabulary, terminology and definitions.