Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 5, 2019

What Is the Scent of Rain?

Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrᵻkɔər/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

The term was coined in 1964 by two Australian CSIRO researchers, Isabel Joy Bear and Richard G. Thomas, for an article in the journal Nature.[1][2] In the article, the authors describe how the smell derives from an oil exuded by certain plants during dry periods, whereupon it is absorbed by clay-based soils and rocks. During rain, the oil is released into the air along with another compound, geosmin, a metabolic by-product of certain actinobacteria, which is emitted by wet soil, producing the distinctive scent; ozone may also be present if there is lightning.[3] In a follow-up paper, Bear and Thomas (1965) showed that the oil retards seed germination and early plant growth.[4] This would indicate that the plants exude the oil in order to safeguard the seeds from germination under duress.

Read full article at Petrichor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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