Assembly of organic protomolecules in the seemingly forbidding matrix of magmatic minerals

GEOC 213

Friedemann T. Freund,, Carl Sagan Center, NASA Ames Research Center/SETI Institute, 515 N Whisman Road, Mountain View, CA 94043, Joshua Mellon,, Department of Physics, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, and Ripudaman Malhotra,, Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
The dense, hard matrix of magmatic minerals is the most unlikely place to “do” organic chemistry. However, during crystallization, igneous minerals incorporate small amounts of H2O and CO/CO2 as impurities. During cooling, an electronic re-arrangement oxidizes oxygen from its common 2– valence to the 1– state, while H and C become chemically reduced. The mineral matrix thus acquires the biogenic elements in a chemically reduced form. During further cooling, exsolution pushes these low-z impurities into dislocations where C-C and C-H bonds begin to form. The resulting HxCyOz entities, sometimes with N and S, represent organic proto-molecules. We report on homologous series HxCyOz and HxCyOzSn, y≤34 and 2≤z≥10, with molecular weights up to 600 amu, Soxlets-extracted with tetrahydrofuran from crushed upper mantle olivine crystals. The mass spectroscopic analyses were performed by Ryan Rodgers at the ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometer facility at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

General GEOC Oral Session
8:20 AM-8:20 PM, Thursday, April 10, 2008 Morial Convention Center -- Rm. 213, Oral

8:00 PM-10:00 PM, Monday, April 7, 2008 Morial Convention Center -- Hall A, Sci-Mix

Division of Geochemistry

The 235th ACS National Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April 6-10, 2008