Hydrogen from Radiolysis of Aqueous Fluid Inclusions during Diagenesis

John Parnell* (Corresponding Author), Nigel Blamey

*Corresponding author for this work

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A suite of Permian sylvite samples from Boulby potash mine, Yorkshire, UK, consistently yield traces of hydrogen upon analysis by a cold crush technique for liberating volatiles from entrapped fluid inclusions. In contrast, accompanying halite samples do not yield hydrogen. These data suggest the formation of hydrogen by radiolysis of water due to irradiation from potassium in the sylvite. The data indicate radiolysis as a mechanism for subsurface hydrogen generation, where it is available as an electron donor for a deep biosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to J. Bowie and J. Still for skilled technical support and the staff at ICL-UK’s Boulby mine (especially Thomas Edwards), STFC’s Boulby underground Laboratory and the UK Centre for Astrobiology MINAR programme team (especially Sean Paling) for their support and supervised access to the site. The critical comments of two reviewers helped to improve the manuscript.

Author Contributions
John Parnell undertook the sampling. Nigel Blamey performed all analytical work. John Parnell wrote the manuscript.


  • Boulby mine
  • Deep biosphere
  • Fluid inclusions
  • Halite
  • Hydrogen
  • Radiolysis
  • Sylvite


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