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Volcanoes May Have Sparked First Life

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UC San Diego researchers have published a new analysis that suggests the essential building blocks of life may have come from volcanic eruptions. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

Volcanoes May Have Sparked First Life

(Photo, right: Scripps professor of marine chemisty Jeff Bada produces an electrical stark in an experimental appartatus to show how the atmospheric conditions during volcanic eruptions may have led to early life on Earth. Scripps Institution of Oceanography )

UC San Diego researchers have published a new analysis that suggests the essential building blocks of life may have come from volcanic eruptions. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

UCSD Professor of marine chemistry Jeffrey Bada says lightning and volcanoes may have sparked early life on Earth. Bada and other Scripps researchers reanalyzed a classic 1953 experiment originally conducted by another UC San Diego professor. They wanted to find out if new chemical compounds could be detected using modern equipment.

sio_A_BadaLab_002.jpg Bada : We're talking about how simple compounds like amino acids could have been transformed into more complex things that eventually started replicating and thus became what we would say living. We imagine that these volcanic systems could have played a central role in this.

Instead of Darwin's theory that life originated in the open ocean, Bada says it's more likely early life came from a small pond or lagoon near a volcano.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.