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Silica biomorphs, primitive life detection, and the limits of mineral self-organization

Jun 20, 2022, 1:15 pm
MARUM 2070

Juan Manuel García-Ruiz

Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas & University of Granada. Spain

According to the latest information provided by Hadean zircons, water condensed on the Earth's surface shortly after the solidification of its earliest ultramafic crust. The thermally driven interaction between water and ultramafic minerals (serpentinization) created an alkaline, silica-rich hydrosphere and a reduced atmosphere, leading to the formation of complex organic compounds. I propose that this global geochemical scenario also triggered the formation of self-assembled silica-based mineral structures that could have played an important role in the transition from inorganic geochemistry to organic chemistry and ultimately to the origin of life itself. I will discuss in the talk i) the fundamentals of mineral self-assembly, ii) its geochemical plausibility and iii) its role in the problem of detecting primitive life and catalyzing the formation of biochemically relevant prebiotic compounds.

Juan Manuel García-Ruiz
Juan Manuel García-Ruiz