Reactions between water and chemically reduced components of minerals have the potential to produce molecular hydrogen (H2) which in the presence of a carbon source (CO2) could fuel both abiotic production of methane (CH4) and biotic methane production by chemosynthetic microbial communities. The aims of this project include to examine (1) rates of abiotic H2 and CH4 formation as a result of interactions between water, CO/CO2 and olivine, and (2) if an environment providing only water, olivine and inorganic carbon (CO2 or HCO3-) can sustain growth of chemosynthetic microorganisms. The overall aim is to extend our knowledge about biotic as well as abiotic parts of the current H2 and CH4 cycles and to determine whether methanogenic microorganisms may have proliferated under the harsh environments that were present on the early Earth or on Mars today.

Contact information: Nils G. Holm