The New Model: Hydrothermal Systems in the Early Continental Crust
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Fracture zones in the young continental crust form ideal conditions for the emergence of life. In addition to the availability of all the raw materials, and a large variability in pressure, temperature, and pH values, CO2 gas (gCO2) occurs in a supercritical phase state. A nonpolar solvent becomes available as a result, in which reactions take place that cannot occur in water. Australia’s hydrothermal quartz, which is billions of years old, proves that extensive organic chemistry exists from the earth’s early phase in such fault zones. Cyclic pressure fluctuations simulated in the laboratory lead to periodic phase transitions of hydrothermal fluids and the formation of vesicles. At the same time, peptides are being formed which interact with the vesicle membranes and promote structural and chemical evolution.
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