Origins of life and evolution of the biosphere

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 533–547 | Cite as

Mineral Radioactivity in Sands as a Mechanism for Fixation of Organic Carbon on the Early Earth

  • John Parnell


Irradiation of organic molecules by mineral radioactivity is a feasible alternative to cosmic irradiation to precipitate solid organic carbon-rich matter on the early Earth. Radioactive (uranium- and thorium-rich) minerals have been concentrated at the Earth's surface, and accumulated accretionary coatings of carbon due to irradiation, since early Archean times. The organic accretion process could have occurred at the surface or in the sub-surface, and is independent of a terrestrial or extraterrestrial source for the carbon.

early Earth habitable zones irradiation monazite polymerization rocky planets 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Parnell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Petroleum GeologyUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenU.K.

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