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8th International Workshop on Thermodynamics, Disequilibrium and Evolution (TDE)

Presenter: Laura Barge, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
When: November 10, 2014 4PM PST

This workshop will be the 8th meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Thermodynamics, Disequilibrium and Evolution (TDE) focus group, and the principal aim of this workshop is to discuss the conditions for early Earth conducive for the emergence of life. The TDE focus group seeks to understand how disequilibria are generated in geological/chemical/biological systems, and how these disequilibria can lead to emergent phenomena, such as self-organization and eventually, metabolism. Life itself is an out-of-equilibrium system that operates by harnessing gradients across membranes. Disequilibrium in inorganic chemical systems also leads to the formation of a variety of patterns, structures, and dynamical systems. Understanding chemical self-organizing processes may be instructive in comparing to biological systems, and also may reveal some of the processes behind life’s origin.

Previous meetings of the TDE focus group have focused on specific sub-topics that are of interest to focus group members as well as the general astrobiology community. For this proposed fall 2014 meeting, we are interested in focusing on geochemical disequilibria generated at seafloor interfaces on wet rocky planets, and in particular, investigating the thermodynamic and chemical phenomena that emerge from this inherent disequilibria at water-rock interfaces. Water-rock interfaces provide disequilibrium, generate electrochemical energy, and may have contributed to the emergence of life on Earth.

In this workshop we will focus on 1) geochemical energy generated at hydrothermal vents, 2) the occurrence of mineral precipitates/proto-membranes at geochemical fluid interfaces (and formation of mineral structures similar to biotic ones), and 3) hypotheses regarding geochemical energy generation on other worlds that may also host seafloor interfaces, such as Europa, Enceladus, or in the past, early Mars.

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