Discovery of supercritical carbon dioxide in a hydrothermal system

Xin Zhang, Lian Fu Li, Zeng Feng Du, Xi Luo Hao, Lei Cao, Zhen Dong Luan, Bing Wang, Shi Chuan Xi, Chao Lian, Jun Yan, Wei Dong Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Supercritical CO2 appearing as bubbles in hydrothermal vents was identified in the south part of the Okinawa Trough using in situ Raman spectroscopy. Significantly, the N2 peak in supercritical CO2 is much larger than those in seawater and vent fluids, indicating that supercritical CO2 enriches N2 from the surrounding environment. Considering that the partial pressures of CO2 and N2 in the Earth's proto-atmosphere were ~10–20 MPa, supercritical CO2 with high N2 was likely the dominant CO2 phase near the water-air interface in the early history of the Earth, which promoted the synthesis, pre-enrichment and preservation of amino acids and other organic matters that are essential to the origin of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-964
Number of pages7
JournalScience Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acid
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • In situ
  • Origin of life
  • Raman spectrum
  • Supercritical CO


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