Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Earth holds its breath

Some inert-gas isotopes in Earth's atmosphere can only have come from deep inside the planet. We thought we knew how much gas Earth gives up, and how it does it — but a challenge has emerged to the prevailing model.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Two inside views.


  1. Heber, V. S., Brooker, R. A., Kelley, S. P. & Wood, B. J. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 71, 1041–1061 (2007).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Marty, B. & Lussiez, P. Chem. Geol. 106, 1–7 (1993).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Brooker, R. A. et al. Nature 423, 738–741 (2003).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Porcelli, D. & Ballentine, C. J. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 47, 411–480 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Watson, E. B., Thomas, J. B. & Cherniak, D. J. Nature 449, 299–304 (2007).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. van Keken, P. E. & Ballentine, C. J. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 7137–7151 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Huang, J. & Davies, G. F. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 8, Q03017 (2007).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Hart, R., Dymond, J. & Hogan, L. Nature 278, 156–159 (1979).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. O' Nions, R. K. & Oxburgh, E. R. Nature 306, 429–431 (1983).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Ballentine, C. J., van Keken, P. E., Porcelli, D. & Hauri, E. H. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 360, 2611–2631 (2002).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Parman, S. W. Nature 446, 900–903 (2007).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Wartho, J.-A. et al. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 170, 141–153 (1999).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ballentine, C. Earth holds its breath. Nature 449, 294–296 (2007).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing