The Hydrothermal Impact Crater Lakes

The Crucibles of Life’s Origin

Authored by: Sankar Chatterjee

Handbook of Astrobiology

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138065123
eBook ISBN: 9781315159966
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Life may have emerged on Earth about 4 billion years ago, but the actual pathways of biogenesis are still shrouded in mystery. A new model for the symbiotic origin of life in hydrothermal crater lakes is proposed previously. In this scenario, life arose through five hierarchical stages of increasing molecular complexity: cosmic, geologic, chemical, information, and biological. In this paper, the first two stages—cosmic and geological—are discussed in detail. In the cosmic stage (≥4.6 Ga), the building blocks of life had their beginnings in interstellar space. Both comets and carbonaceous chondrites delivered the building blocks of life and water to early Earth. Meteorite collisions that created hydrothermal crater lakes in the Eoarchean crust inadvertently became the perfect crucibles for prebiotic chemistry, filled with cosmic water and the building blocks of life. In the geologic stage (4–3.2 Ga), the oldest greenstone belts of Canada, Greenland, South Africa, and Australia show the earliest evidence of thermophilic life in hydrothermal environments. An attractive site for life’s beginning would be a network of complex crater lakes with hydrothermal systems that served as the crucibles for prebiotic synthesis and biogenesis. In these hydrothermal crater lakes, cosmic and terrestrial chemicals were mixed, concentrated, and linked together by convection currents, powered by hydrothermal, solar, tidal, and chemical energies, where life began to brew.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.