SIMS Meteorite Research Reveals the Origin of Water on Earth

In new research about the origin of water on Earth, SIMS analysis has revealed that enstatite meteorites contain sufficient hydrogen for at least three times the mass of water in the oceans. The research at CRPG Nancy (Research Center Pétrographiques Et Géochimiques) in France used SIMS technology from CAMECA.

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The Origin of Water on Earth

A recent study at Centre de Recherches Petrographiques et Geochimiques (CRPG, CNRS/Universite de Lorraine, France), published in the journal Science, offers evidence about the origin of water on Earth, with clues from some of the oldest rocks in the solar system.

Measuring Hydrogen in Meteorites

Using a large geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (SIMS) from CAMECA, scientists from CRPG measured the amount of hydrogen, the primary element in water, in 13 samples of enstatite chondrite meteorites.

The analysis revealed that the meteorites carry significantly more hydrogen than previously believed. The amount of hydrogen in the ancient meteorites is enough for at least three times the amount of water in the oceans on Earth today.

Our discovery shows that the Earth’s building blocks might have significantly contributed to the Earth’s water.
Dr Laurette Piano, SIMS user & researcher at Université de Lorraine

The research doesn’t exclude addition of water from other sources such as comets at a later date. However, it’s a clear indication that enstatite chondrites contributed significantly to Earth’s water at the time it formed.

Scientific Paper

The findings at CRPG were published in the journal Science from AAAS.

Read the scientific paper

The research has also been covered in an article on Sci-News.

Article on Sci-News

What is SIMS?

SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) is the most sensitive elemental and isotopic surface microanalysis technique:

  • Extremely high sensitivity to all elements from Hydrogen to Uranium and above.
  • Detection limit down to ppb level for many elements.
  • High lateral resolution imaging down to 40 nm.
  • Very low background for high dynamic range (>5 decades).

Static SIMS focuses on the top monolayer, and dynamic SIMS analyses bulk composition and in-depth distribution of trace elements, at a depth resolution of sub-nm to tens of nm. All CAMECA SIMS instruments are capable of dynamic SIMS. More about dynamic SIMS…

SIMS Instrumentation

The research used a large geometry Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer from CAMECA; the current model is the IMS 1300-HR3:



Large geometry SIMS for geoscience:

  • Track geological processes using stable isotopes.
  • Date minerals (geochronology).
  • Trace element detection / distribution.
  • Nuclear safeguarding: locate and measure uranium particles.

More Information

Blue Scientific is the official distributor of CAMECA Elemental and Isotopic Analysis systems in the UK, Ireland and Finland. We’re available to provide quotes and answer all your questions – just get in touch:

 Contact us on +44 (0)1223 422 269 or

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