Scientists at the University of Rochester and Colorado ( USA ) have explained where the first nutrients on Earth could come from, which are necessary for the appearance of the first living organisms. According to an article published in the journal Science , the accumulation of minerals on the planet’s surface was influenced by high-temperature fluids seeping through the Earth’s crust and feeding hydrothermal vents.
The researchers reconstructed the properties of lithospheric fluids in the crust and upper mantle of the Earth, which took place about four billion years ago. Fluids are highly mobile substances that are components of magma or deep solutions saturated with gases. They are key routes for transporting minerals between different parts of the lithosphere and hydrothermal pools on the Earth’s surface, where single-celled life is thought to have first evolved.
The scientists analyzed the chemical composition of four-billion-year-old zircons and developed a model for the formation of these minerals to determine oxygen pressure, chlorine content, and temperatures of lithospheric fluids. This made it possible to find out what substances could be transported from the bowels of the Earth to hydrothermal vents.
It turned out that metals such as manganese are more likely to function as important links between the mantle and emerging biological systems on the Earth’s surface. On the contrary, copper, which was considered the most likely chemical component that could contribute to the emergence of life, could only exist in abundance in hydrothermal pools under a certain set of factors.