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Nature Communications (1)
Thorseth, Ingunn H. (2)
Barriga, Fernando J. A. S. (1)
Baumberger, Tamara (1)
Flesland, Kristin (1)
Fonseca, Rita (1)
Früh-Green, Gretchen L. (1)
Hellevang, Helge (1)
Huang, Shanshan (1)
Jorgensen, Steffen L. (1)
Lilley, Marvin D. (1)
Pedersen, Rolf B. (1)
Rapp, Hans Tore (1)
Year of Publication
The Potential for Low-Temperature Abiotic Hydrogen Generation and a Hydrogen-Driven Deep Biosphere
The release and oxidation of ferrous iron during aqueous alteration of the mineral olivine is known to reduce aqueous solutions to such extent that molecular hydrogen, H2, forms. H2 is an efficient energy carrier and is considered basal to the deep subsurface biosphere. Knowledge of the potential for H2 generation is therefore vital to understanding the deep biosphere on Earth and on extraterrestrial bodies.
Here, we provide a review of factors that may reduce the potential for H2 generation with a focus on systems in the core temperature region for thermophilic to hyperthermophilic microbial life. We show that aqueous sulfate may inhibit the formation of H2, whereas redox-sensitive compounds of carbon and nitrogen are unlikely to have significant effect at low temperatures. In addition, we suggest that the rate of H2 generation is proportional to the dissolution rate of olivine and, hence, limited by factors such as reactive surface areas and the access of water to fresh surfaces. We furthermore suggest that the availability of water and pore/fracture space are the most important factors that limit the generation of H2. Our study implies that, because of large heat flows, abundant olivine-bearing rocks, large thermodynamic gradients, and reduced atmospheres, young Earth and Mars probably offered abundant systems where microbial life could possibly have emerged. Key Words: Serpentinization—Olivine—Hydrogen—Deep biosphere—Water—Mars. Astrobiology 11, 711–724.
Discovery of a black smoker vent field and vent fauna at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Pedersen, Rolf B.
Rapp, Hans Tore
Lilley, Marvin D.
Barriga, Fernando J. A. S.
Früh-Green, Gretchen L.
Jorgensen, Steffen L.
The Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge (AMOR) represents one of the most slow-spreading ridge systems on Earth. Previous attempts to locate hydrothermal vent fields and unravel the nature of venting, as well as the provenance of vent fauna at this northern and insular termination of the global ridge system, have been unsuccessful. Here, we report the first discovery of a black smoker vent field at the AMOR. The field is located on the crest of an axial volcanic ridge (AVR) and is associated with an unusually large hydrothermal deposit, which documents that extensive venting and long-lived hydrothermal systems exist at ultraslow-spreading ridges, despite their strongly reduced volcanic activity. The vent field hosts a distinct vent fauna that differs from the fauna to the south along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The novel vent fauna seems to have developed by local specialization and by migration of fauna from cold seeps and the Pacific.
The Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge spreads extremely slowly and hydrothermal vent fields have not been reported in its vicinity. Pedersen et al. describe a black smoker vent field with large hydrothermal deposits and novel fauna distinct from those found in similar environments in the Atlantic.
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