EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Streamer discharges in the atmosphere of Primordial Earth

Martin Bødker Enghoff1, Nikolaos Segkos1, Sasa Dujko2, Olivier Chanrion1, and Christoph Köhn1
Martin Bødker Enghoff et al.
  • 1Technical University of Denmark, National Space Institute, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark (
  • 2University of Belgrade, Institute of Physics, Belgrade, Serbia (

Motivated by the Miller-Urey experiment suggesting that lightning may have contributed to the origin of life on Earth through the formation of amino acids and carbonic acids, we here investigate the occurrence of electric discharges in the atmosphere of Primordial Earth. We focus on the early stages of lightning in the atmosphere of Primordial Earth, the so-called streamers, thin ionized plasma channels.

We study electron avalanches and potential avalanche-to-streamer transitions by modeling the motion of electrons with a particle-in-cell Monte Carlo code in gas mixtures of H2O:CH4:NH3:H2=37.5%:25%:25%:12.5% [S. L. Miller. Production of Some Organic Compounds under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions. Am. Chem. Soc., 77:9, pp. 2351-2361 (1955)] and N2:CO2:H2O:H2:CO=80%:18.89%:1%:0.1%:0.01% [J. F. Kasting. Earth’s Early Atmosphere. Science, 259:5097, pp. 920-926 (1993)] suggested for Primordial Earth approx. 3.8 Ga ago in different electric fields and for different levels of background ionization mimicking the photoionization process. We compare the evolution of the electron density,  electric field, and electron energies with those for Modern Earth. Finally, we will discuss which conditions favour streamer inception, as well as consequences for discharges on Primordial Earth.

How to cite: Enghoff, M. B., Segkos, N., Dujko, S., Chanrion, O., and Köhn, C.: Streamer discharges in the atmosphere of Primordial Earth, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8384,, 2020


Display file