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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

15 - New Perspectives on Abiotic Organic Synthesis and Processing during Hydrothermal Alteration of the Oceanic Lithosphere

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Summary

Over the last decade, there has been an increased focus on describing condensed carbonaceous matter in rocks in several ultramafic settings and in experiments. This organic carbon – unaccounted for until now – seems to be ubiquitous in the crust, with profound implications for the deep carbon cycle and the sustainability of deep microbial ecosystems. Among the suite of abiotic organic compounds that may have formed abiotically in serpentinizing systems in particular are molecules of prebiotic interest, including a series of amino acids. In this chapter, the geochemical pathways for the abiotic synthesis of condensed carbonaceous matter are described, as well as the thermodynamic stability of such compounds and both their biotic and abiotic processing in the crust.