** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

    >>Japan Geoscience Union

    >>Links to 50 society members

    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

    Gallery View of PEPS Articles

    Research

    Interdisciplinary research

    202402202402

    Magnesium silicate chimneys at the Strytan hydrothermal field, Iceland, as analogues for prebiotic chemistry at alkaline submarine hydrothermal vents on the early Earth

    Gutiérrez-Ariza C, Barge LM, Ding Y, Cardoso SSS, McGlynn SE, Nakamura R, Giovanelli D, Price R, Lee HE, Huertas FJ, Sainz-Díaz CI, Cartwright JHEGutiérrez-Ariza C, Barge LM, Ding Y, Cardoso SSS, McGlynn SE, Nakamura R, Giovanelli D, Price R, Lee HE, Huertas FJ, Sainz-Díaz CI, Cartwright JHE

    Alkaline submarine hydrothermal vents, Strytan hydrothermal field, Prebiotic chemistry, Origin of life

    The Strytan Hydrothermal Field (SHF) in basaltic terrain in Iceland is one of the extant alkaline submarine hydrothermal vent systems favoured as analogues for where life on Earth may have begun. To test this hypothesis we analyse the composition, structure, and mineralogy of samples from hydrothermal chimneys generated at the SHF. We find that the chimney precipitates are composed of Mg-silicates including clays of the saponite-stevensite group (high Mg and Si, low Fe and Al), Ca-carbonates and Ca-sulfates. The chimneys comprise permeable structures with pores sizes down to 1 µm or less. Their complex interiors as observed with SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) and X-ray CT (computed tomography scanning), exhibit high internal surface areas. EDX (energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) analysis reveals an increase in the Mg/Si ratio toward the chimney exteriors. Chemical garden analogue experiments produce similar Mg–silicate chimneys with porous internal structures, indicating that injection-precipitation experiments can be high-fidelity analogues for natural hydrothermal chimneys at the SHF. We conclude that SHF chimneys could have facilitated prebiotic reactions comparable to those proposed for clays and silica gels at putative Hadean to Eoarchean alkaline vents. Analysis of the fluid dynamics shows that these chimneys are intermediate in growth rate compared to faster black smokers though slower than those at Lost City. The SHF is proposed as a prebiotic alkaline vent analogue for basaltic terrains on the early Earth.