• Home
  • Science
  • Science News
  • Ancient Oxygen Source Detected in Earth’s Crust; May Have Influenced Evolution of Life, Researchers Say

Ancient Oxygen Source Detected in Earth’s Crust; May Have Influenced Evolution of Life, Researchers Say

The subterranean oxygen source may have influenced the evolution of life even before the development of photosynthesis.

Ancient Oxygen Source Detected in Earth’s Crust; May Have Influenced Evolution of Life, Researchers Say

Photo Credit: NASA

The Earth's crust moves in tectonically active regions, creating subsurface cracks and fractures

  • Scientists have discovered a source of oxygen under the Earth's crust
  • Hydrogen peroxide can be generated from rocks during geological faults
  • It can serve as an efficient source of oxygen for microbes

An ancient source of oxygen has been discovered deep in the Earth's crust, by scientists from Newcastle University. The researchers were able to unravel a mechanism through which hydrogen peroxide could be generated from rocks during geological faults, by conducting laboratory experiments and replicating conditions seen beneath the Earth's surface. This extra source of oxygen, according to researchers may have influenced the early evolution of life on Earth when photosynthesis wasn't there. Hydrogen peroxide can be harmful to living beings in high concentrations. But it can also serve as an efficient source of oxygen for microbes.

When the Earth's crust moves in tectonically active regions, besides causing earthquakes, it also results in cracks and fractures on the subsurface. This subsurface has some highly reactive rock surfaces that feature defects and imperfections. Water tends to seep down the surface and react with new defects in the fractured rocks.

In the study, Master's student Jordan Stone was able to successfully replicate these conditions in the laboratory. He crushed rocks like granite, basalt, and peridotite that would be present in the early Earth's crust. These crushed rocks were added to water while maintaining controlled and oxygen-free conditions at varying temperatures.

The team observed that a significant amount of hydrogen peroxide could be generated only at temperatures near the boiling point of water. It was also noted the temperature needed for hydrogen peroxide formation overlapped with the growth ranges of hyperthermophiles, some of the most heat-loving microbes on Earth. These also included the evolutionary ancient microbes near the root of the metaphorical Universal Tree of Life that were said to utilise oxygen.

“While previous research has suggested that small amounts of hydrogen peroxide and other oxidants can be formed by stressing or crushing rocks in the absence of oxygen, this is the first study to show the vital importance of hot temperatures in maximising hydrogen peroxide generation,” said Stone.

He is the lead author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Highlighting the significance of the experiment, senior lecturer and principal investigator Dr Jon Telling said that defects on crushed rock and minerals can behave differently from how one would expect more perfect mineral surfaces to react.  He said that the mechanism observed in the rocks needs to generate peroxide and thus oxygen too.  This, he added, could have an impact and influence on the chemistry and microbiology in seismically active regions before the evolution of photosynthesis.

What should you make of Realme's three new offerings? We discuss them on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on X, Facebook, WhatsApp, Threads and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you want to know everything about top influencers, follow our in-house Who'sThat360 on Instagram and YouTube.

Further reading: Oxygen, Earth
Gadgets 360 Staff
The resident bot. If you email me, a human will respond. More
Motorola Razr 2022, Moto X30 Pro, Moto S30 Pro Launch to Take Place on August 11; Specifications Teased
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 to Hide Its Under-Display Camera Better Than Predecessor: Report
Share on Facebook Gadgets360 Twitter Share Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment google-newsGoogle News


Follow Us
© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Trending Products »
Latest Tech News »