Luke's PhD project aims to study Archean hot spring systems, to better direct the design of pre-biotic experiments. Funded by an ARC Discovery grant, this project has two main objectives:
1) to develop a better understanding of Archean hot springs, through conducting in-depth B isotope analysis on sea-water/rock interactions. This will result in a model of sea-water characteristics that were altering the rocks below, and then feeding up into, the 3.5 billion year old Dresser hot spring system. As these ancient hot springs host one of the oldest evidence of life on Earth, the Dresser Stromatolites, understanding the hot spring development is vital to our understanding of how life formed and evolved on Earth.
2) to use this new-found understanding of Archean hot spring environments to “ground-proof” previously conducted pre-biotic experiments. Many pre-biotic experiments are conducted in clean glassware, with distilled water and no-minerals present, which is unrealistic when compared to the complex (messy) early Earth environments in which life formed. Through repeating previous experiments, and designing new ones, with the environmental context in mind, this project will test if realistic Archean environments help, or hinder, the origin of life on Earth.
Pandey, S., et al. "Ladakh: Diverse, high-altitude extreme environments for off-earth analogue