Robert M. Hazen | Geophysical Laboratory

Origins of Life

Since 1996 our lab has been engaged in a variety of chemical studies related to the origin of life. Our guiding principal is that the origin of life was a geochemical processes that resulted from interactions of oceans, atmosphere, and rocks and minerals. Any plausible origins scenario must be consistent with geochemical constraints. Much of our work has focused on environments at moderately high temperatures (<300ºC) and pressures (to 5,000 atmospheres). 

Brandes, J.A., N.Z.Boctor, G.D.Cody, B.A.Cooper, R.M.Hazen, and H.S.Yoder, Jr. (1998) Abiotic nitrogen reduction in the early earth. Nature 395, 365-367.

Cody, G.D., N.Z.Boctor, T.R.Filley, R.M.Hazen, J.H.Scott, H.S.Yoder, Jr. (2000) Primordial carbonylated iron-sulfur compounds and the synthesis of pyruvate. Science 289, 1337-1340.

Brandes, J.A., R.M.Hazen, H.S.Yoder, Jr., and G.D.Cody (2000) Early pre- and post-biotic synthesis of alanine: an alternative to the Strecker synthesis. In: Perspectives in Amino Acid and Protein Geochemistry. 

(G. A. Goodfriend, M. J. Collins, M. L. Fogel, S. A. Macko, and J. F. Wehmiller, eds.). Oxford University Press, NY. pp. 41-59.

Hazen, R.M. (2001) Hazen, R.M. (2001) Emergence and the origin of life. In: G.Pályi (Editor)Fundamentals of Life. New York: Elsevier, pp.41-50.

Cody, G.D., R.M.Hazen, J.A.Brandes, H.J.Morowitz, H.S.Yoder, Jr. (2001) Geochemical roots of autotrophic carbon fixation: Hydrothermal experiments in the system citric acid, H2O-(±FeS)-(±NiS). Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta65, 3557-3576.

Cody, G.D., N.Z.Boctor, J.A.Brandes, T.R.Filley, R.M.Hazen and H.S.Yoder, Jr. (2004) Assaying the catalytic potential of transition metal sulfides for prebiotic carbon fixation. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 68, 2185-2196.

Hazen, R. M. (2005) Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press, 339 p. (Softcover edition, 2007).

Hazen, R. M. (2005) Genesis: Rocks, minerals and the geochemical origin of life. Elements 1, #3 (June, 2005), 135-137.

Hazen, R. M. and D. Deamer (2007) Hydrothermal reactions of pyruvic acid: synthesis, selection, and self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules, Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere 37, 143-152.

Ertem, G, R. M. Hazen and J. P. Dworkin (2007) Sequence analysis of trimer isomers formed by montmorillonite catalysis in the reaction of binary monomer mixtures. Astrobiology 7, 715-724.

Bada, J., B. Fegley Jr., S. L. Miller, A. Lazcano, H. J. Cleaves, R. M. Hazen and J. Chalmers (2007) Debating evidence for the origin of life on Earth. Science315, 937-938.

Ertem, G., R. M. Hazen, A. M. Snellinger, J. P. Dworkin and M. V. Johnston (2008) Sequence- and region-selective formation of RNA-like oligomers by montmorillonite catalysis. International Journal of Astrobiology, in press.

Hazen, R. M. (2008) The chemical evolution of life: An Introduction. In L. Zaikowski and J. M. Friedrich [editors], Chemical Evolution II: From Origins of Life to Modern Society. American Chemical Society Symposium, in preparation.

Hazen, R.M. (2008) The geochemical origin of life. Invited chapter in A. H. Knoll, D. E. Canfield and K. O. Konhauser (Editors), A Geobiology Reader, in preparation.