The Origin of Life

Power source

Power supply needed

Practical evolving systems and usually require of a source of power in order to operate.

An energy gradient of some kind is usually required in order to preserve the information in the genomes of living systems against insults from the environment.


It is possible to classify theories about the origin of life according to the source of power for the first organisms.

Super saturation

The main source of power and for organisms in the crystalline ancestry scenario comes from the latent energy present in super-saturated solutions. This is the usual energy source for aqueous crystallisation processes.

However, this is a proximate energy source - and it raises the question of what the ultimate source of energy that is responsible for the maintenance of the observed level of super saturation is.

The hydrological cycle

The ultimate source of the energy of super-saturation in the oceans is primarily the sun.

The sun causes water in the ocean to cycle - in what is known as the "hydrological cycle":

Hydrological cycle

The cycling water erodes rock, causing small particles to go into solution.

These particles are carried by rivers into the ocean, resulting in an increase of the level of saturation there. This in turn contributes to the formation of crystals.


Over time, rivers have the power to move large quantities of rock back into the ocean.

Erosion can transport large quantities of rock

If this process were to continue unchecked, the world's continents would ultimately vanish beneath the surface of its oceans.

Other forces act to prevent this from happening. These forces arise from the phenomena of vulcanism and plate tectonics.

Mountain formation

Vulcanism creates outcroppings of volcanic rock - in the form of volcanoes. Plate tectonics of has the power to erect entire mountain ranges.

These processes in themselves require their own sources of power - and a complete account of the source of super saturated solution in the ocean should probably include a mention of them.

One source of power for volcanic activity comes in the form of the elevated temperature of the Earth's core.

This elevated temperature comes from residual energy - left over from the formation of the solar system.

However the Earth's hot core may not itself be sufficient to explain the operation of plate tectonics in forming mountains.

Mountain formation depends on the movement of plates in particular directions being sustained over long periods of time.

One theory about the source of long-term tectonic plate movements claims that these are driven by convection currents in the underlying magma.

Under this theory, the direction of these currents would in turn be influenced by tidal forces of caused by the Earth's rotation in the gravitational field of the moon and sun.

There are also forces caused by a the interaction of the Earth's magnetic field will and that of the Sun.

These various forces also generate friction, which heats up the magma, and slows down the rate at which the Earth's core freezes up.


The main source of power and for organisms in the crystalline ancestry scenario comes ultimately from the heat of the sun.

However, the earth's rotation - and its hot core - may also help to supply some of the energy involved.

Tim Tyler | Contact |