Sedimentary Minerals under Reducing Conditions

  • L. E. Orgel


Professor Oparin, in his classical publication in 1924 (1), was the first to emphasize that the primitive atmosphere of the Earth was reducing and that this has important consequences for studies of the origins of life. His proposal that organic compounds were synthesized in a reducing atmosphere provided the conceptual framework for the burst of activity in the field of experimental prebiotic chemistry that was initiated by Urey and Miller (2). It is now widely believed that prebiotic synthesis occurred in a reducing or, at least, a nonoxidizing atmosphere. However, very little has been written about the implications of Oparin’s proposal for the discussion of the inorganic chemistry of the prebiotic Earth. Here we indicate some ways in which the inorganic chemistry of oceans and lakes on the primitive Earth is likely to have differed from the chemistry with which we are now familiar.


Evolutionary Biochemistry Ferro Cyanide Hydrogen Sulphide Hydroxyl Apatite Hydrogen Cyanide 


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  1. 1.
    Oparin, A.I., “Proiskhozhedenie zhizny,” Moscow Izd. Moskovskii Rabochii, 1924. Translation as Appendix I in “The Origin of Life,” Bernal, J.D., World Publishing Company, Cleveland and New York, 1967.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Miller, S. L., Science 117, 528 (1953).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Handschuh, G. J., Lohrmann, R., and Orgel, L.E., J. Mol. Evol., in press (1973).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Handschuh, G. J., and Orgel, L. E., Science 179, 483 (1973).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    McConnell, D., Science 181, 582 (1973).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Handschuh, G. J., unpublished results.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. E. Orgel
    • 1
  1. 1.The Salk Institute for Biological StudiesSan DiegoUSA

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