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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 2, issue 1
Biogeosciences, 2, 97–111, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-97-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
Biogeosciences, 2, 97–111, 2005
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2-97-2005
© Author(s) 2005. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  05 Apr 2005

05 Apr 2005

Geodynamic and metabolic cycles in the Hadean

M. J. Russell and N. T. Arndt M. J. Russell and N. T. Arndt
  • Géosciences, LGGA, Université de Grenoble 1, 1381, rue de la Piscine, 38400 St. Martin d’ Heres, France

Abstract. High-degree melting of hot dry Hadean mantle at ocean ridges and plumes resulted in a crust about 30km thick, overlain in places by extensive and thick mafic volcanic plateaus. Continental crust, by contrast, was relatively thin and mostly submarine. At constructive and destructive plate boundaries, and above the many mantle plumes, acidic hydrothermal springs at ~400°C contributed Fe and other transition elements as well as P and H2 to the deep ocean made acidulous by dissolved CO2 and minor HCl derived from volcanoes. Away from ocean ridges, submarine hydrothermal fluids were cool (≤100°C), alkaline (pH ~10), highly reduced and also H2-rich. Reaction of solvents in this fluid with those in ocean water was catalyzed in a hydrothermal mound, a natural self-restoring flow reactor and fractionation column developed above the alkaline spring. The mound consisted of brucite, Mg-rich clays, ephemeral carbonates, Fe-Ni sulfide and green rust. Acetate and glycine were the main products, some of which were eluted to the ocean. The rest, along with other organic byproducts were retained and concentrated within Fe-Ni sulfide compartments. These compartments, comprising the natural hydrothermal reactor, consisted partly of greigite (Fe5NiS8). It was from reactions between organic modules confined within these inorganic compartments that the first prokaryotic organism evolved. These acetogenic precursors to the bacteria diversified and migrated down the mound and into the ocean floor to inaugurate the "deep biosphere". Once there they were protected from cataclysmic heating events caused by large meteoritic impacts. Geodynamic forces led to the eventual obduction of the deep biosphere into the photic zone where, initially protected by a thin veneer of sediment, the use of solar energy was mastered and photosynthesis emerged. The further evolution to oxygenic photosynthesis was effected as catalytic [Mn,Ca]-bearing molecules that otherwise would have been interred in minerals such as ranciéite and hollandite in shallow marine manganiferous sediments, were sequestered and invaginated within the cyanobacterial precursor where, energized by light, they could oxidize water. Thus, a chemical sedimentary environment was required both for the emergence of chemosynthesis and of oxygenic photosynthesis, the two innovations that did most to change the nature of our planet.

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