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Ciba Found Symp. 1996;202:61-76; discussion 76-82.

Chemical and physical context for life in terrestrial hydrothermal systems: chemical reactors for the early development of life and hydrothermal ecosystems.


The diversity of terrestrial hot spring systems, resulting from the large scale coupled transfer of heat and mass in the Earth's crust, maximizes opportunities for evolving ecosystems by the continuous supply of nutrients (P, N, C, S) together with the metals (e.g. K, Mg, Mo, Zn) essential to biogenesis. Cyclic, evaporative micro-environments are common, and potentially catalytic mineral surfaces are also continually created through rock alteration and mineral deposition in and around hot springs. These dynamical systems constitute highly interactive, open, chemical environments capable of establishing complex biochemical microreactors. Volcanic collapse settings on oceanic islands, provide a highly dynamic scenario for the initiation of life and development of diverse ecosystems at the earliest stages of development of the Earth's crust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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