The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front

  title={The emergence of life from iron monosulphide bubbles at a submarine hydrothermal redox and pH front},
  author={Michael J. Russell and Allan J. Hall},
  journal={Journal of the Geological Society},
  pages={377 - 402}
Here we argue that life emerged on Earth from a redox and pH front at c. 4.2 Ga. This front occurred where hot (c. 150°C), extremely reduced, alkaline, bisulphide-bearing, submarine seepage waters interfaced with the acid, warm (c. 90°C), iron-bearing Hadean ocean. The low pH of the ocean was imparted by the ten bars of CO2 considered to dominate the Hadean atmosphere/hydrosphere. Disequilibrium between the two solutions was maintained by the spontaneous precipitation of a colloidal FeS… 
The onset and early evolution of life
It is suggested that this chemosynthetic life emerged within hydrothermal mounds produced by alkaline solutions of moderate temperature in the relative safety of the deep ocean fl oor and protected the catalytically and electrochemically active pyrophosphate and iron/nickel sulfi de clusters, from dissolution or crystallization.
The Origin of Life in Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents.
The perplexing differences in carbon and energy metabolism in methanogenic archaea and acetogenic bacteria are analyzed to propose a possible ancestral mechanism of CO2 reduction in alkaline hydrothermal vents and it is shown that the evolution of active ion pumping could have driven the deep divergence of bacteria and archaea.
The geochemical modelling of emergent life from submarine hydrothermal environments
Hydrothermal systems may have been more widespread in the Hadean due to a greater heat flux. To investigate this possibility, and unravel the mechanism(s) by which the pH of high-temperature vent
The Alkaline Solution to the Emergence of Life: Energy, Entropy and Early Evolution
This hydrothermal circuitry offers a continuous supply of material and chemical energy, as well as electricity and proticity at a potential appropriate for the onset of life in the dark, a rapidly emerging kinetic structure born to persist, evolve and generate entropy while the sun shines.
Serpentinization as a source of energy at the origin of life
Hydrothermal mounds accumulating at similar sites in today's oceans offer conceptual and experimental models for the chemistry germane to the emergence of life, although the ubiquity of microbial communities at such sites in addition to the authors' oxygenated atmosphere preclude an exact analogy.
Hydrothermal Focusing of Chemical and Chemiosmotic Energy, Supported by Delivery of Catalytic Fe, Ni, Mo/W, Co, S and Se, Forced Life to Emerge
It is argued that the first carbon-fixing reaction was the molybdenum-dependent, proton-translocating formate hydrogenlyase system described by Andrews et al. (Microbiology 143:3633–3647, 1997), but driven in reverse.
The drive to life on wet and icy worlds.
A reformulation of the submarine alkaline hydrothermal theory for the emergence of life in response to recent experimental findings is presented, suggesting that experimentation should look to the kind of nanoengines that must have been the precursors to molecular motors-such as pyrophosphate synthetase and the like driven by these gradients-that make life work.
Serpentinization: Connecting Geochemistry, Ancient Metabolism and Industrial Hydrogenation
It is suggested that at the onset of life, essential reactions leading to reduced carbon and reduced nitrogen occurred with catalysts that were synthesized during the serpentinization process, connecting the chemistry of life and Earth to industrial chemistry in unexpected ways.
An Origin-of-Life Reactor to Simulate Alkaline Hydrothermal Vents
A simple electrochemical reactor is built to simulate conditions in alkaline hydrothermal vents, allowing investigation of the possibility that abiotic vent chemistry could prefigure the origins of biochemistry.
The “Origin-of-Life Reactor” and Reduction of CO2 by H2 in Inorganic Precipitates
  • J. Jackson
  • Chemistry
    Journal of Molecular Evolution
  • 2017
It is shown by a straightforward calculation that the formate produced was only that which reached on approach to equilibrium without any driving force from ΔpH, and it is concluded that the reaction was facilitated by isotropic catalysts in the precipitate membrane but not by an anisotropic Δ pH-driven molecular machine.


On the emergence of life via catalytic iron‐sulphide membranes
It is proposed that the precipitation of a gelatinous iron-sulphide membrane is the necessary first step towards life and the geochemical environment envisaged as responsible for this first step is consistent with that widely accepted for the early Earth.
An Hypothesis Concerning the Relationships Between Submarine Hot Springs and the Origin of Life on Earth
A diverse set of observations from Archaean fossil-bearing rocks, modern submarine hydrothermal systems, experimental and theoretical work on the abiotic synthesis of organic molecules and primitive
Pyrite-pyrrhotine redox reactions in nature
  • A. Hall
  • Geology
    Mineralogical Magazine
  • 1986
Abstract The origin in rocks of the common iron sulphides, pyrrhotine, Fe1-xS and pyrite, FeS2 and their behaviour during geochemical processes is best considered using the simplified redox reaction:
The concept of electron activity and its relation to redox potentials in aqueous geochemical systems
The definition of a formal thermodynamic activity of electrons in redox reactions appears in the literature of the 1920's. The concept of pe as ~l°glO [electron activity] was introduced by Jtfrgensen
Sulphur isotope fractionation in modern microbial mats and the evolution of the sulphur cycle
It is concluded that high sulphate concentrations give rise to highly 34S-depleted sulphides, and thus that appreciable concentrations of seawater sulphate did not accumulate until the initial accumulation of oxygen into the atmosphere in post-Archaean times.
A novel group of abyssal methanogenic archaebacteria (Methanopyrus) growing at 110 °C
A novel group of methanogenic archaebacteria growing at least at 110°C from sediment samples taken by the research submersible Alvin at the Guaymas Basin hot vents (Gulf of California) demonstrates the unexpected biogenic methanogenesis at temperatures above 100 °C, and could explain isotope discrimination at temperatures that were thought to be unfavourable for biological meethanogenesis.
Chemical environments of submarine hydrothermal systems.
  • E. Shock
  • Geology
    Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere : the journal of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life
  • 1992
A critical study of the possible role of hydrothermal processes in the origin of life should include the full spectrum of probable environments.
Deep-sea smokers: windows to a subsurface biosphere?