Hydrocarbons in Hydrothermal Vent Fluids: The Role of Chromium-Bearing Catalysts

Dionysis I. Foustoukos, William E. Seyfried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) synthesis has long been proposed to account for the existence of hydrocarbons in hydrothermal fluids. We show that iron- and chromium-bearing minerals catalyze the abiotic formation of hydrocarbons. In addition to production of methane (CH4aq), we report abiotic generation of ethane (C2H6aq) and propane (C 3H8aq) by mineral-catalyzed hydrothermal reactions at 390°C and 400 bars. Results suggest that the chromium component in ultramafic rocks could be an important factor for FTT synthesis during water-rock interaction in mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal systems. This in turn could help to support microbial communities now recognized in the subsurface at deep-sea vents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1005
Number of pages4
Issue number5673
StatePublished - May 14 2004


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