Noble Gases in Sea Water

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Science  20 Nov 1964:
Vol. 146, Issue 3647, pp. 1035-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.146.3647.1035


Concentrations of noble gases in samples of sea water obtained at depths to 3437 meters from a Pacific Ocean station were measured by mass spectrometry. An excess of helium, in relation to concentrations of the other noble gases, is attributed to influx of atoms of this gas from the sediments where it is produced by the natural radioactive decay of members of the uranium and thorium series. On the basis of a steady-state model, the escape of helium from the earth is calculated at 6.4 x 1013 atoms per square centimeter per year.