Oct 212012
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During our chemical education in school, most of us heard of noble gases just as elements that are completely unreactive. Furthermore they are quite scarce, thus, there is no need for further mentioning them. They cannot be of much use anyway.

In fact, most of us use noble gases in our everyday life, e.g. they are essential in fluorescent lamps. And the heavier noble gases could even be brought to reaction by chemists. Still the chemistry of those elements is not of much interest outside the scientific community. But it was found out that one of those gases – xenon – shows a decreasing concentration in the earth’s atmosphere.

Detektor.fm asked Andreas Neidlinger, Editor of the Journal of Unsolved Questions “How did all the xenon vanish?”.

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  2 Responses to “How did all the xenon vanish?”

  1. Very recently, there has been new a answer to the question why all the xenon vanished for the earth’s primordial atmosphere. In the earth’s early history perovskite crystallized from the magma ocean that was the earth’s mantle back then. A lot of the atmosphere as we see it today is a result from degassing the perovksite. The reason for the abundance of argon and the lack of xenon is that – unlike argon – xenon is not well soluble in perovskite. According to this study, the xenon vansihed from the earth’s atmosphere when the perovskite crystallized.

    For further information on this latest development see the article “The origin of the terrestrial noble-gas signature” by Svyatoslav S. Shcheka & Hans Keppler in Nature, August 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11506


    — Cheers


  2. Another article was published a few months ago dealing with this subject. Various xenon oxides are discussed for which computational chemistry was used to calculate the stabilities under a range of conditions.

    You can find the text here: “Stability of xenon oxides at high pressures” by Qiang Zhu, Daniel Y. Jung, Artem R. Oganov, Colin W. Glass, Carlo Gatti, and Andriy O. Lyakhov, Nature Chemistry 2013, 5, 61-65, doi: 10.1038/nchem.1497.



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