Study disputes claim about life in ancient rock

Sunday, May 26, 2002

WASHINGTON -- A conclusion that a 3.85-billion-year-old rock contains evidence of life may be in error, according to a study that suggests the rock formed at temperatures too torrid to make life possible.

A study published in 1996 concluded a band of rocks on the Greenland offshore island of Akilia contained a high ratio of the isotope carbon-12, which was interpreted as evidence for the presence of microscopic life billions of years ago.

But the new study, by Christopher M. Fedo, a George Washington University geologist, and Martin J. Whitehouse of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, concludes the Akilia deposit was formed from superheated melted rock and that the enriched levels of carbon-12 could have been caused by chemical action, not by some life form.

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