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.


Fossil raindrops and ancient air

An analysis of fossil imprints of ancient raindrops suggests that the density of the atmosphere 2.7 billion years ago was much the same as that today. This result casts fresh light on a long-standing palaeoclimate paradox. See Letter p.359

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

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



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

Figure 1: Solid evidence.



  1. *This article and the paper under discussion3 were published online on 28 March 2012.


  1. Ribas, I. in Solar and Stellar Variability: Impact on Earth and Planets (eds Kosovichev, A. G., Andrei, A. H. & Rozelot, J.-P.) Ch. 1 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Sagan, C. & Mullen, G. Science 177, 52–56 (1972).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Som, S. M., Catling, D. C., Harnmeijer, J. P., Polivka, P. M. & Buick, R. Nature 484, 359–362 (2012).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Ramsay, J. G. Trans. Geol. Soc. S. Afr. 66, 353–401 (1963).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Schopf, J. W. & Barghoorn, E. S. Science 156, 508–512 (1967).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Harrison, T. M. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 37, 479–505 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Reinhard, C. T. & Planavsky, N. J. Nature 474, (2011).

  8. Dauphas, N. & Kasting, J. F. Nature 474, (2011).

  9. Goldblatt, C. & Zahnle, K. J. Nature 474, (2011).

  10. Rosing, M. T., Bird, D. K., Sleep, N. H. & Bjerrum, C. J. Nature 474, (2011).

  11. Lyell, C. Edinb. N. Phil. J. 51, 70–74 (1851).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Kasting, J. F. Precambr. Res. 34, 205–229 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Goldblatt, C. et al. Nature Geosci. 2, 891–896 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Sheldon, N. D. Precambr. Res. 147, 148–155 (2006).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Haqq-Misra, J. D., Domagal-Goldman, S. D., Kasting, P. J. & Kasting, J. F. Astrobiology 8, 1127–1137 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Ueno, Y. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 14784–14789 (2009).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to William S. Cassata or Paul R. Renne.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cassata, W., Renne, P. Fossil raindrops and ancient air. Nature 484, 322–324 (2012).

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