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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Deep Hot Biosphere

The Deep Hot Biosphere

   The Deep Hot Biosphere theory was proposed by the scientist astrophysicist, astronomer and cosmologist  Thomas Gold (1920-2004). It concerns of a microbial biosphere that exists at depth, profuse both within the Earth and probably other planets, feed by primordial and abiotic hydrocarbons, mainly methane and chemical energy. This realm, dominated by procaryotic Archaea and  positioned on suitable range of temperature, is independent of surface life and protected of harmful radiation and meteoritic impacts. The biomass of deep biosphere may exceed the entire mass of the surface biosphere. Deep levels in the Earth would be an environment that could form catalytic and autocatalytic molecules that contribute for the emergence of life. After, this deep primeval life developed a sophisticated apparatus to conquest the surface of planet - by photosynthesis - using energy from sunlight to dissociated water and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates, permitting autotrophy.

   The Deep Hot Biosphere was originally published in an article of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,1992, USA). In 1999, Thomas Gold published the book "The Deep Hot Biosphere - The Myth Of Fossil Fuels" which describes in detail the ideas that support this theory. The main reason consists in understanding the origin of hydrocarbons whose base is in Deep-Earth Gas Theory.

   Thomas Gold postulated that hydrocarbons (such as oil, natural gas and black coal ) are primary compounds, i.e., were incorporated into the Earth during the process of planetary accretion. He stated that hydrocarbons are surelly abiotic compounds and very common on Earth and the universe. His ideas and from other eminent scientists about the origin of oil and natural gas are extensively discussed and offer outstanding solutions to solve the petroleum paradox.

   His work is a legacy to science and humanity and the book The Deep Hot Biosphere - The Myth Of Fossil Fuels is also accessible to understanding by laymen. In summary his ideas can thus be defined as its own quote:

"Hydrocarbons are not biology reworked by geology (as traditional view would hold), but rather geology reworked by biology"

Gold, T., 1992
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA
Vol 89, pp. 6045-6049, July 1992

There are strong indications that microbial life is widespread at depth in the crust of the Earth, just as such life has been identified in numerous ocean vents. This life is not dependent on solar energy and photosynthesis for its primary energy supply, and it is essentially independent of the surface circumstances. Its energy supply comes from chemical sources, due to fluids that migrate upward from deeper levels in the Earth. In mass and volume it may be comparable with all surface life. Such microbial life may account for the presence of biological molecules in all carbonaceous materials in the outer crust, and the inference that these materials must have derived from biological deposits accumulated at the surface is therefore not necessarily valid. Subsurface life may be widespread among the planetary bodies of our solar system, since many of them have equally suitable conditions below, while having totally inhospitable surfaces. One may even speculate that such life may be widely disseminated in the universe, since planetary type bodies with similar subsurface conditions may be common as solitary objects in space, as well as in other solar-type systems.

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