Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


HOFFMANN, Adam, Department of Earth Sciences and Astronomy, Mt. San Antonio College, 1100 N. Grand Ave, Walnut, CA 91789 and WHITE, Lauren M., California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Planetary Science Section, 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109,

Serpentinization is a reaction between ocean crust and water that generates energy, hydrogen gas, and ions. Hydrothermal effluent from serpentinizing systems emerges at the Earth’s surface precipitating alkaline hydrothermal vents. Today, these vents harbor some of the most extreme forms of life and are theorized to have been where life originated during the Hadean (Russell and Hall 1997). The absence of plate tectonics and magmatic activity makes these systems attractive analogues to similar systems that may exist and host life on other wet rocky planets (i.e. Europa and/or Enceladus). A unique hydrothermal reactor (Mielke et al. 2010) was built to test the capability of ancient alkaline hydrothermal systems to synthesize organic molecules towards the earliest emergence of life, as theorized by (Russell and Hall 1997). Experiments conducted using this hydrothermal reactor simulate serpentinization and alkaline hydrothermal vents under conditions that would have been present on the early Earth. Analysis of the solid materials from the hydrothermal reactor was performed before and after each experiment to determine detailed geochemistry in ancient serpentinization, which would have contributed to organic synthesis. Findings of minerals associated with serpentinization and some catalytically active species of iron sulfides offer evidence that serpentinization-like conditions are successfully reproduced using this novel instrument.