by John R. Doughty, Ph.D.

Recently Proskurowski et al. (2008) authored an excellent paper in which they reported finding radiocarbon (14C) in Mid Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vent fluids. The fluids had methane (CH4) contents ranging from 1.07 to 1.84 mmol/kg. Other smaller amounts of C2 to C4 alkanes were also present. The theme of the paper was that the hydrocarbons were produced by abiogenic, Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions.

They reported results for eight sites, five of which had measurable radiocarbon.  For one site (site 7), two results were reported, making a total of six sample results. The authors stated that the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) measurements of these aqueous CH4 samples consistently yielded 14C contents which were near the detectable limit of the AMS device. Of the six data points, only one had a reasonable error bound, a problem due to small sample sizes….

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