Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Hydrothermal Reaction

  • Koichiro Matsuno
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_760-4


Hydrothermal reactions are chemical reactions that take place in or near hydrothermal vents. Of importance from the perspective of prebiotic chemistry is the fact that the two processes, heating and quenching, are separated due to the repeated hydrothermal circulation of seawater around the hot vents. Heating is indispensable for activating the reactants for a wide variety of synthetic reactions, while quenching is crucial for selectively retaining some of those species that are synthesized. Heating and quenching experienced sequentially during hydrothermal circulation of seawater can make prebiotic chemistry evolutionary without being entrapped in thermal equilibrium in which both heating and quenching remain inseparable.


Hydrothermal reactions are classified into two distinct groups. One is for the reactions in thermal equilibrium, and the other is for those off thermal equilibrium.

Experimental examination of synthetic chemical reactions in thermal equilibrium...


Exergonic reactions Heating Hot vents Hydrolysis Hydrothermal circulation Quenching Selective retention 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Amend J, Shock EL (1998) Energetics of amino acid synthesis in hydrothermal ecosystems. Science 281:1659–1662CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Imai E, Honda H, Hatori K, Brack A, Matsuno K (1999) Elongation of oligopeptides in a simulated submarine hydrothermal system. Science 283:831–833CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Joyce GF, Orgel LE (1999) Prospects for understanding the origin of the RNA world. In: Guesteland RF, Cech TR, Atkins JF (eds) The RNA world, 2nd edn. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, pp 49–77Google Scholar
  4. Matsuno K, Nemoto A (2005) Quantum as a heat engine – the physics of intensities unique to the origins of life. Phys Life Rev 2:227–250CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nagaoka University of TechnologyNagaokaJapan