Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Refractory Organic Polymer

  • Henderson James (Jim) CleavesIIEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_1362


In geochemistry, a refractory organic polymer refers to an often poorly structurally defined polymer formed through chemical transformation, for example, during  diagenesis. Biological materials, such as the residues of dead organisms or the waste products of living organisms, may accumulate in sediments and form an amorphous “polymer” which may shed some easily hydrolyzed moieties and volatile elements during aging. Some examples of refractory biological organic polymers include  kerogen and the humic and fulvic acids. As aging continues, less and less of the polymer is easily hydrolyzed, and the material is said to be refractory. Such polymers may also be derived from abiotically synthesized organic materials, for example, the insoluble organic material found in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth–Life Science Institute (ELSI)Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro–kuTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Institute for Advanced StudyPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Blue Marble Space Institute of ScienceWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Chemical EvolutionGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA