Abstract

The role of clay minerals in the abiotic synthesis of organic molecules near seafloor spreading centers was simulated experimentally. Clays are common hydrothermal alteration products of volcanic glass and due to their nano-scale crystal size, provide extensive and variably charged surfaces that interact with aqueous organic species. Volcanic gases H2and CO2have been shown to react on magnetite surfaces to form methanol, a primary organic molecule, under hydrothermal conditions. Therefore, our experiments simulated the temperature and pressure conditions (300°C, 100 MPa) that exist beneath hydrothermal vents, in stockwork fractures through which hydrothermal fluids interact with fresh basalt. We examined the products of reactions between aqueous methanol and three common clay minerals found in those environments (montmorillonite, saponite, illite). Montmorillonite reacted to ∼60% illite over 6 weeks, while saponite and illite were mineralogically stable. Organic products extracted with dichloromethane from the two expandable smectite clays (montmorillonite, saponite) contained a variety of complex organic molecules including: alkanes, alkyl-benzenes, alkyl-naphthalenes, alkyl-phenols, alkyl-naphthols, alkyl-anthrols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-phenols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-naphthols, and long-chain methyl esters. Experiments with the non-expandable illite yielded only traces of alkanes and alkyl-benzene after 6 weeks. We infer that the interlayer surfaces of smectites provide crystallographic sites involved in the organic synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The largest variety and quantity of organic products was produced from montmorillonite as the layer charge increased during conversion to illite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Pages79-112
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9789048187935
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Fingerprint

spreading center
illite
saponite
montmorillonite
clay
alkane
smectite
benzene
methanol
clay mineral
phenol
volcanic gas
volcanic glass
seafloor spreading
hydrothermal vent
hydrothermal alteration
naphthalene
hydrothermal fluid
ester
magnetite

Keywords

  • Abiotic organic synthesis
  • Biomolecules
  • Clay minerals
  • Hydrothermal experiments
  • Saponite
  • Smectite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Williams, L., Holloway, J. R., Canfield, B., Glein, C. R., Dick, J. M., Hartnett, H., & Shock, E. (2011). Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers. In Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection (pp. 79-112). Springer Netherlands. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4

Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers. / Williams, Lynda; Holloway, John R.; Canfield, Brandon; Glein, Christopher R.; Dick, Jeffrey M.; Hartnett, Hilairy; Shock, Everett.

Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection. Springer Netherlands, 2011. p. 79-112.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Williams, L, Holloway, JR, Canfield, B, Glein, CR, Dick, JM, Hartnett, H & Shock, E 2011, Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers. in Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection. Springer Netherlands, pp. 79-112. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4
Williams L, Holloway JR, Canfield B, Glein CR, Dick JM, Hartnett H et al. Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers. In Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection. Springer Netherlands. 2011. p. 79-112 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4
Williams, Lynda ; Holloway, John R. ; Canfield, Brandon ; Glein, Christopher R. ; Dick, Jeffrey M. ; Hartnett, Hilairy ; Shock, Everett. / Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers. Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection. Springer Netherlands, 2011. pp. 79-112
@inbook{231f1c9bd6fd45d8bc8768029a14cada,
title = "Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers",
abstract = "The role of clay minerals in the abiotic synthesis of organic molecules near seafloor spreading centers was simulated experimentally. Clays are common hydrothermal alteration products of volcanic glass and due to their nano-scale crystal size, provide extensive and variably charged surfaces that interact with aqueous organic species. Volcanic gases H2and CO2have been shown to react on magnetite surfaces to form methanol, a primary organic molecule, under hydrothermal conditions. Therefore, our experiments simulated the temperature and pressure conditions (300°C, 100 MPa) that exist beneath hydrothermal vents, in stockwork fractures through which hydrothermal fluids interact with fresh basalt. We examined the products of reactions between aqueous methanol and three common clay minerals found in those environments (montmorillonite, saponite, illite). Montmorillonite reacted to ∼60{\%} illite over 6 weeks, while saponite and illite were mineralogically stable. Organic products extracted with dichloromethane from the two expandable smectite clays (montmorillonite, saponite) contained a variety of complex organic molecules including: alkanes, alkyl-benzenes, alkyl-naphthalenes, alkyl-phenols, alkyl-naphthols, alkyl-anthrols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-phenols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-naphthols, and long-chain methyl esters. Experiments with the non-expandable illite yielded only traces of alkanes and alkyl-benzene after 6 weeks. We infer that the interlayer surfaces of smectites provide crystallographic sites involved in the organic synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The largest variety and quantity of organic products was produced from montmorillonite as the layer charge increased during conversion to illite.",
keywords = "Abiotic organic synthesis, Biomolecules, Clay minerals, Hydrothermal experiments, Saponite, Smectite",
author = "Lynda Williams and Holloway, {John R.} and Brandon Canfield and Glein, {Christopher R.} and Dick, {Jeffrey M.} and Hilairy Hartnett and Everett Shock",
year = "2011",
doi = "10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4",
language = "English (US)",
isbn = "9789048187935",
pages = "79--112",
booktitle = "Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - Birth of biomolecules from the warm wet sheets of clays near spreading centers

AU - Williams, Lynda

AU - Holloway, John R.

AU - Canfield, Brandon

AU - Glein, Christopher R.

AU - Dick, Jeffrey M.

AU - Hartnett, Hilairy

AU - Shock, Everett

PY - 2011

Y1 - 2011

N2 - The role of clay minerals in the abiotic synthesis of organic molecules near seafloor spreading centers was simulated experimentally. Clays are common hydrothermal alteration products of volcanic glass and due to their nano-scale crystal size, provide extensive and variably charged surfaces that interact with aqueous organic species. Volcanic gases H2and CO2have been shown to react on magnetite surfaces to form methanol, a primary organic molecule, under hydrothermal conditions. Therefore, our experiments simulated the temperature and pressure conditions (300°C, 100 MPa) that exist beneath hydrothermal vents, in stockwork fractures through which hydrothermal fluids interact with fresh basalt. We examined the products of reactions between aqueous methanol and three common clay minerals found in those environments (montmorillonite, saponite, illite). Montmorillonite reacted to ∼60% illite over 6 weeks, while saponite and illite were mineralogically stable. Organic products extracted with dichloromethane from the two expandable smectite clays (montmorillonite, saponite) contained a variety of complex organic molecules including: alkanes, alkyl-benzenes, alkyl-naphthalenes, alkyl-phenols, alkyl-naphthols, alkyl-anthrols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-phenols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-naphthols, and long-chain methyl esters. Experiments with the non-expandable illite yielded only traces of alkanes and alkyl-benzene after 6 weeks. We infer that the interlayer surfaces of smectites provide crystallographic sites involved in the organic synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The largest variety and quantity of organic products was produced from montmorillonite as the layer charge increased during conversion to illite.

AB - The role of clay minerals in the abiotic synthesis of organic molecules near seafloor spreading centers was simulated experimentally. Clays are common hydrothermal alteration products of volcanic glass and due to their nano-scale crystal size, provide extensive and variably charged surfaces that interact with aqueous organic species. Volcanic gases H2and CO2have been shown to react on magnetite surfaces to form methanol, a primary organic molecule, under hydrothermal conditions. Therefore, our experiments simulated the temperature and pressure conditions (300°C, 100 MPa) that exist beneath hydrothermal vents, in stockwork fractures through which hydrothermal fluids interact with fresh basalt. We examined the products of reactions between aqueous methanol and three common clay minerals found in those environments (montmorillonite, saponite, illite). Montmorillonite reacted to ∼60% illite over 6 weeks, while saponite and illite were mineralogically stable. Organic products extracted with dichloromethane from the two expandable smectite clays (montmorillonite, saponite) contained a variety of complex organic molecules including: alkanes, alkyl-benzenes, alkyl-naphthalenes, alkyl-phenols, alkyl-naphthols, alkyl-anthrols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-phenols, methoxy and alkyl-methoxy-naphthols, and long-chain methyl esters. Experiments with the non-expandable illite yielded only traces of alkanes and alkyl-benzene after 6 weeks. We infer that the interlayer surfaces of smectites provide crystallographic sites involved in the organic synthesis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The largest variety and quantity of organic products was produced from montmorillonite as the layer charge increased during conversion to illite.

KW - Abiotic organic synthesis

KW - Biomolecules

KW - Clay minerals

KW - Hydrothermal experiments

KW - Saponite

KW - Smectite

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=80053025035&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=80053025035&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4

DO - 10.1007/978-90-481-8794-2_4

M3 - Chapter

SN - 9789048187935

SP - 79

EP - 112

BT - Earliest Life on Earth: Habitats, Environments and Methods of Detection

PB - Springer Netherlands

ER -