Serpentinizing Systems Science

Presenter: Alexis Templeton, Tori Hoehler & Jen Blank
When: January 31, 2017 9AM PST

Sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute
Co-organized by Alexis Templeton, Tori Hoehler and Jen Blank


Compelling terrestrial evidence records active and ancient serpentinization, the process that occurs when ultramafic rocks come into contact with water. This process may have been active on the surface and subsurface of Mars, beneath the surface of icy satellites such as Enceladus and Europa, and beyond. On Earth, these geochemical interactions support distinct microbial ecosystems.

The purpose of this workshop is to highlight recent advances in understanding how Serpentinizing Systems function chemically and biologically within our Solar System.

For more information, of if you would like to contribute a pop-up talk, please contact the Workshop Organizers: Jen Blank ( or Tori Hoehler (

Pop-up talks, in this context, are 1-5 minute contributed presentations that will be scheduled in the final Workshop agenda to follow the listed speakers. Contributors may use slides (typically 1-3), which they should send to the organizers and to the NAI Technical Support personnel in advance.

There is wide latitude for the content of the pop-up talks, but they should follow the theme of the day of the Workshop.

Each day of this 3-day workshop will begin with an overview by a Theme Lead, followed by several invited talks (list below) and group discussion. Participants will be encouraged to contribute short, pop-up talks, and the workshop is open to all interested parties.

A short white-paper on emerging frontiers in Serpentinzing Systems Science will be crafted from the workshop content.

Day 1
0900 Introduction by Alexis Templeton
0915 Topic overview by Billy Brazelton
0930 Invited Speaker: Susan Lang, Carbon in serpentinite-hosted systems
0955 Invited Speaker: Everett Shock, Geochemical Bioenergetics of Serpentinizing Systems

1020 Break
1035 Invited Speaker: Matt Schrenk, Serpentinization in Continental Settings: Insights into Subsurface Biogeochemistry
1100 Invited Speaker: Beth Orcutt, Life in serpentinizing systems below the seafloor: Opportunities and Challenges
1130 Contributed ‘pop-up’ talks

1200 End of Day 1

Day 2
0900 Brief review of Day 1 by Billy Brazelton
0915 Topic overview by Tom McCollom
0930 Invited Speaker: Frieder Klein, Theoretical & experimental constraints on seafloor serpentinization
0955 Invited Speaker: Lisa Mayhew, Tracing iron and mineralogical transformations in low temperature serpentinization reaction systems

1020 Break
1035 Invited Speaker: Sanjoy Som, Biological potential of serpentinizing systems
1100 Invited Speaker: Mike Russell, Serpentinization was the mother of life: Not its sister!
1130 Contributed ‘pop-up’ talks

1200 End of Day 2

Day 3
0900 Brief review of Day 1 by Tom McCollom
0915 Topic overview by Steve Vance
0930 Invited Speaker: Christophe Sotin, Evidences for extraterrestrial hydrated silicates
0955 Invited Speaker: Elena Amador, Serpentine as a mineral tracer for past habitable environments on Mars

1020 Break
1035 Invited Speaker: Marc Neveu, Serpentinization on Small Bodies
1100 Invited Speaker: Christophe Glein, The Geochemistry of Enceladus’ Ocean toward the End of the Cassini Mission
1130 Contributed ‘pop-up’ talks

1200 End of Day 3

Workshops Without Walls

  • The Workshop Without Walls concept was developed by the NAI as part of its mandate to use modern information technology to foster interdisciplinary and collaborative research among widely distributed investigators.
  • Subscribe to this series