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Geological Sciences

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

The research at the Department of Geological Sciences concerns the formation of organic molecules in terrestrial environments and the effects of life on Earth's chemistry. In one project, the abiotic (Fischer-Tropsch) synthesis of organic molecules under hydrothermal conditions, which is suggested to play an important role in the abiotic formation of hydrocarbons, is investigated. Experimental simulations of hydrothermal environments will increase the understanding of mechanisms and pathways for the formation of organic molecules on Earth and in the Solar System.

Another project examines the serpentinization process under specific conditions, to broaden the knowledge of a process that is found on Earth and in meteorites. Serpentinization requires water and is heat releasing, which is of special interest in cold environments. The process is suggested to release enough energy to be self-sustained in meteoritic parent bodies.

The dynamics of methane under various conditions is also studied, using laboratory experiments in combination with thermodynamical modelling. A dead planet would have an atmosphere in abiological steady state equilibrium. But Earth's atmosphere has incompatible gases, e.g. methane and oxygen, which coexist in disequilibrium. The persistence of this state suggests the existence of an of an active control system, and thus reveals the presence of life. On a world of carbon-based life, the recorded geological evidence show that the unregulated injection of methane to the atmosphere has changed from early history of Earth up to now. The Gaia hypothesis suggests that life is an active participant in shaping the environment on which it de- pends. These changes leads to the question of how the dynamics of methane relates to the origin of life.

The research is affiliated with the activities of the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) - Deep Energy Directorate

 

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