Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unexpected carbon composition discovered in world's oldest diamonds

03.07.2008
Did life on earth begin earlier than we have hitherto believed?

While examining the oldest diamonds in the world, a group of researchers, including Martina Menneken and Dr. Thorsten Geisler from the University of Münster (Institute of Mineralogy), have found evidence that life may have existed 4.25 billion years ago.

Up to now, scientists have assumed that the first living cells came into being around 3.5 billion years ago. The prestigious magazine "Nature" has published the results in its current edition dated July 3rd, 2008.

Martina Menneken and her colleagues had already made news in 2007 when they discovered the oldest diamonds in the world. Since then a team consisting of scientists from Australia, Sweden and Münster have been continuing their analysis of the diamond and graphite inclusions in zircons from western Australia which are only a few micrometres in size and up to 4.25 billion years old. In the course of their work the researchers have found some unexpectedly low content of the heavy carbon isotope C-13. Small amounts of this isotope are typical of carbon originating from organic material.

With the aid of a secondary ion mass spectrometer the scientists have measured the proportions of various carbon isotopes (C-12 to C-13) in the inclusions in order to get more information about where the carbon came from and how the diamond and graphite inclusions arose. The proportions measured range from typical values found in the earth's crust to values characterized by an extremely low amount of the heavy C-13 isotope.

"The composition of the carbon isotopes is an indication that life may have existed 4.25 billion years ago," says Martina Menneken. However, abiogenic chemical reactions may also have caused low amounts of heavy carbon. What is certain is that very soon after the formation of the earth 4.56 billion years ago there must have existed on earth a carbon reservoir with extremely low amounts of C-13.

"Our data do not prove the existence of life 4.25 billion years ago," says Menneken, "but they do raise the question of how this unexpected carbon composition arose." The presence of living organisms is one possible explanation. If it should turn out to be true, the history of life would have to be rewritten.

Reference: Nemchin et al. (2008): A light carbon reservoir recorded in zircon-hosted diamond from the Jack Hills. Nature 454, 92-95

Weitere Informationen:
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Mineralogie/en/index.html Institute of Mineralogy / WWU

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7200/full/nature07102.html Nature-article

Dr. Christina Heimken | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-muenster.de/
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Mineralogie/en/index.html
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7200/full/nature07102.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>