Earth’s unique status as the only life-harboring planet in the Solar System is generally linked to its location in our inner solar system that resulted in stabilization of liquid water on its surface. However, in addition to surface water, Earth is unique in that critical life-essential elements have migrated to the Earth’s surface and are thus available for the development and use of life. Many of these elements are not found in the building blocks of other rocky planets. Because of plate tectonics, volcanic activity and the hydrologic cycle, many of these elements have become concentrated near the Earth’s surface.
The evolution of life on Earth depends not only on the presence of critical life-essential elements, but how they are made available to life by the interaction of the atmosphere, Earth’s surface and the ocean through time.
Habitable environments on Earth are dominated by extremely diverse conditions. These are observed in our landscape at a global scale, thus providing a way to identify the effects of life on planetary processes.
Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
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