The water mass of the Earth's oceans has fallen by a quarter to 4,000 million years due to loss of hydrogen to space amounting to saturate the atmosphere with oxygen.
Scientists at the Natural History Museum of Denmark came to this conclusion by comparing the isotopic composition of modern ocean water and "petrified water," mineral serpentine, formed about 3.8 billion years ago in the territory of Greenland current.
The geological mineral serpentine is formed at high temperatures when ocean waters penetrate into cracks and fissures in the crust.
"In the water that covered the planet in the dawn of time, the light isotopes of hydrogen predominated over heavy" notes study author, Emily Pope.
The researchers explain this phenomenon by noting that the hydrogen isotopes formed by light, 'flew' into space.
According to the expert, at one point in the evolutionary history of the planet (which is approximately 2.4 to 2.2 million a few years), the proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere increased so much that it began a process of chemical replacement of water.
The atmospheric oxygen acts as a barrier which react with the atoms "runaway", water molecules are then fall back into the ocean.
In addition, scientists were able to determine that 4,000 million years ago the amount of methane in the Earth's atmosphere was 50-500 times greater than that recorded now.