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Experimental studies in hydrothermal geochemistry

English title Experimental studies in hydrothermal geochemistry
Applicant Seward Terry
Number 113476
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Mineralogie und Petrographie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geochemistry
Start/End 01.02.2007 - 30.09.2007
Approved amount 72'800.00
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Keywords (9)

hydrothermal; high temperature-high pressure; aqueous solutions; metal complex equilibria; biomolecules; fluids in Earth`s crust; high temperature; metal complexes; black smokers

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Hydrothermal solutions occur throughout the Earth's crust and upper mantle over wide ranges of temperature and pressure. These fluids are responsible for the transport of many dissolved components and heat to the Earth's surface where they discharge both subaerially and on the sea floor as active submarine (black smoker) geothermal systems.
We are studying the stability of some simple biomolecules such as amino acids, peptides, and nucleobases as well as nucleic acid in aqueous media as a function of temperature in order to gain some insight into the nature of prebiotic, "origin-of-life" chemistry in sea floor hydrothermal systems. The thermochemical stability of these biomolecular compounds is being studied in gold lined autoclaves which employ optical windows enabling in-situ observation of the reaction kinetics. In addition, aliquots of solutions may also be removed from the autoclaves at temperature and pressure during the reaction progress for analysis. Our previous studies with amino acids (e.g aspartic acid) show a complex array of similtaneous reaction pathways which include deammination, decarboxylation, dimerization and cyclization.
Our other on-going studies include the stability and stoichiometry of metal complexes in high temperature-high pressure aqueous solutions under conditions relevant to those occurring in the Earth's crust using a combination of synchrotron X-ray absorption and ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy with quantum chemical computations. The aim is to understand the transport and precipation chemistry of hydrothermal solutions migration in the Earth's crust at a molecular level.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
105165 Experimental studies in hydrothermal geochemistry 01.10.2004 Project funding (Div. I-III)