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Canada's Last Chance Lake: A Volcanic Reservoir of Life's Beginnings?

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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The debate over the origin of life on Earth has been raging for centuries, with scientists taking various positions in the debate. A study published in Nature suggests that life may have evolved in a volcanic setting rather than an aquatic one. In the study, David Catling and his colleagues looked into the British Columbia volcanic plateau in Canada at Last Chance Lake for life.

Last Chance Lake differentiates itself with waters that are shallow, saline, and have little to no vegetation. Researchers were therefore attracted to the high phosphate levels in the lake, which are essential for RNA, DNA, and ATP. Dolomite is known to accumulate phosphorus.

Nature described the discovery to Sebastian Haas, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington studying aquatic microbiology and chemistry. He said the concentrations in Last Chance Lake were about 1,000 times greater than those found in ocean and lake waters.

Visiting Last Chance Lake as a part of the research team for 2021–2022, Haas said the geology of the lake suggests a linkage with some ancient life-supporting habitats. He also stressed with great vigor the importance of volcanic rocks in soda lakes like Last Chance Lake.

The rocks are as old as the earliest landmasses on Earth, by 3 billion years. The discovery challenges the theories of an aquatic origin and sheds light on possible life origins. The researchers are curious about finding out the origins of life in such severe conditions as Last Chance Lake.

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