Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological and Environmental Sciences (MSBES)


Environmental and Earth Sciences



First Advisor

Dawn Cardace


Serpentinization, the water-rock reaction forming serpentine mineral assemblages from olivine and pyroxene-bearing protoliths, can co-occur with the production of hydrogen, methane, and diverse organic compounds. Serpentinization is regarded as a geologic process important to the sustainability of the deep biosphere and the origin of life. Serpentinization has been found to support metabolisms involving anaerobic CO-oxidation, acetogenesis, reduction of sulfur compounds, H2 oxidation, CO2 fixation, and fermentation. There is on-going research to develop a method that can visually depict mineral associations in serpentinites with serpentinization-related organics. In this report, we describe new findings, using µFTIR to map minerals and associated organics related to serpentinization. To do this, we identified, confirmed, and documented FTIR wavenumber regions linked to (I) serpentinization-associated minerals, (II) carbonate-associated minerals, and (III) a polysaccharide proxy for EPS. The findings of this study indicate that organic presence with a mineral background can be detected using reflection mode-µFTIR (R-FTIR). Implications for this study include the ability to detect and map polished rock surfaces to determine the association of organics to mineral phases and boundaries in serpentinization-related lithologies.



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