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1.  The Potential for Low-Temperature Abiotic Hydrogen Generation and a Hydrogen-Driven Deep Biosphere 
Astrobiology  2011;11(7):711-724.
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.
PMCID: PMC3176347  PMID: 21923409

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