The potential for abiotic organic synthesis and biosynthesis at seafloor hydrothermal systems

Everett Shock, P. Canovas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Geofluids (2010) 10, 161-192. Calculations are presented of the extent to which chemical disequilibria are generated when submarine hydrothermal fluids mix with sea water. These calculations involve quantifying the chemical affinity for individual reactions by comparing equilibrium compositions with the compositions of mixtures in which oxidation-reduction reactions are inhibited. The oxidation-reduction reactions that depart from equilibrium in these systems provide energy for chemotrophic microbial metabolism. Methanogenesis is an example of this phenomenon, in which the combination of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane induced by fluid mixing is far from equilibrium, which can be approached if more methane is generated. Similarly, the production of other organic compounds is also favorable under the same conditions that permit methanogenesis. Alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, aldehydes, carboxylic acids and amino acids are among the compounds that, if formed, would lower the energetic state of the chemical composition generated in mixed fluids. The resulting positive values of chemical affinity correspond to the thermodynamic drive required for abiotic organic synthesis. It is also possible that energy release accompanies biosynthesis by chemotrophic organisms. In this way, hydrothermal ecosystems differ radically from familiar ecosystems at Earth's surface. If captured, the energy released may be sufficient to drive biosynthesis of carbohydrates, purines, pyrimidines and other compounds which require energy inputs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-192
Number of pages32
JournalGeofluids
Volume10
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

Fingerprint

hydrothermal system
seafloor
methanogenesis
energy
methane
fluid
ecosystem
alkene
carboxylic acid
aldehyde
hydrothermal fluid
disequilibrium
alkane
alcohol
carbohydrate
organic compound
energetics
amino acid
carbon dioxide
thermodynamics

Keywords

  • Abiotic organic synthesis
  • Affinity
  • Amino acids
  • Biosynthesis
  • Carbohydrates
  • Hydrothermal
  • Organic acids
  • Seafloor hydrothermal systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

The potential for abiotic organic synthesis and biosynthesis at seafloor hydrothermal systems. / Shock, Everett; Canovas, P.

In: Geofluids, Vol. 10, No. 1-2, 05.2010, p. 161-192.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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