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Carbonatite-Water Reactions Yield Hydrogen and Methane ?

已有 633 次阅读 2024-5-18 17:24 |个人分类:地球科学|系统分类:观点评述

  When olivine, one of the most common minerals in the mantle, undergoes serpentinization at the Earth's surface or in the shallow crust, previous studies have indeed confirmed the production of hydrogen (H₂) and methane (CH₄). This process involves the alteration of olivine under conditions where water is present, transforming it into minerals such as serpentine. This chemical reaction can release reducing gases like hydrogen and methane. However, direct serpentinization of olivine in the deep mantle is not commonly observed, as the mantle environment typically lacks sufficient water and the appropriate temperature-pressure conditions for this type of alteration to occur. Mantle peridotite, which largely composes the upper mantle and constitutes a significant portion of the mantle's volume, is a major rock type in the upper mantle. The majority of the mantle consists of silicate minerals, including peridotite. Predominantly composed of olivine and pyroxene, peridotite is especially abundant in the upper regions of the mantle, particularly in the top few hundred kilometers according to geological understanding.

Regarding abiogenic gas sources associated with mantle peridotites, specifically hydrogen and methane, the role of mantle carbonates becomes an intriguing point of discussion. Carbonate rocks are a relatively rare type, their formation intimately tied to the activity of carbon during partial melting processes in the mantle. When igneous carbonates interact with water, a series of complex reactions can take place that may yield hydrogen and methane. Such mechanisms provide an explanatory pathway for the origin of gases (including those potentially relevant to life beyond the biosphere) within the mantle, supporting the theory that the mantle plays a significant role in Earth's deep carbon cycle and gas emissions.

In the enigmatic depths of Earth's mantle, where temperatures soar and pressures defy imagination, We are exploring a fascinating possibility: that under these extreme conditions, carbonate rocks, in the presence of metal elements and water, could be catalyzing reactions to produce hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4), offering insights into the planet's deep carbon cycle and untapped energy sources.

Theoretical Framework: A Subterranean Chemical Factory

Theoretical models propose that, akin to processes in industrial chemistry, the Earth's mantle may harbor reactions similar to the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Here, carbon dioxide (CO2), abundant in the mantle due to the breakdown of carbonate minerals like calcite (CaCO3), could interact with hydrogen under the influence of metallic catalysts, potentially iron or nickel, prevalent in the mantle. This interaction might lead to the formation of methane and water as byproducts, as per the simplified equation:

�CO2+(4�)H2→(2�)CH4+(2�)H2Oimage.png

Simultaneously, direct reduction of carbonate rocks in the presence of reduced metals, such as zero-valent iron (Fe0), could initiate a cascade of reactions. Initially, this may involve the decomposition of carbonate minerals, releasing CO2, which then, under specific reducing environments and in aqueous solutions, can be further reduced to CH4 and H2, illustrating a complex interplay between geology and chemistry.

Water-Rock Interaction: A Catalyst for Hydrogen Generation

Water-rock interactions, known as serpentinization when involving ultramafic rocks, are also crucial. In the context of carbonate-rich systems, even limited water interacting with these rocks and appropriate metal ions can facilitate hydrogen generation through reactions such as:

CaCO3+H2O→CaO+CO2+H2

image.png

These reactions highlight the potential for the mantle to act as a significant abiotic source of hydrogen gas, with implications for our understanding of deep Earth energy budgets and potential life-sustaining chemosynthetic processes at great depths.

Laboratory Insights and Future Prospects

Given the inaccessibility of the mantle, laboratory simulations are pivotal. Researchers recreate mantle-like conditions to test these hypotheses, using high-pressure, high-temperature chambers to mimic the reactions. While these experiments have provided valuable insights, they underscore the complexity and variability of natural systems. The quest is on to refine experimental setups and analytical techniques to better replicate the intricate balance of temperature, pressure, and chemical composition found in Earth's deep interior.

Conclusion: Uncharted Depths Yield New Perspectives

Exploring the potential for hydrogen and methane production from carbonate rocks under mantle conditions offers a window into Earth's hidden geochemical dynamics. While still largely speculative, these findings challenge conventional notions about the origins of hydrocarbons and stimulate discussions on the role of Earth's interior in the global carbon cycle. As scientific understanding advances, the prospects for harnessing these subterranean processes for energy or unraveling the mysteries of planetary evolution become increasingly tantalizing. The mantle, it seems, continues to hold its secrets tightly, but science is steadily prying them open.



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