Faculty Profiles

Gustaf Arrhenius

Faculty-Affiliate, Electrical and Computer Engineering




Astrobiology, origin of life, organic chemistry, geochemistry, cosmochemistry, exobiology and mineralogy.

Professor Arrhenius is an world-renowned expert on the origin and early evolution of ocean-atmosphere, molecular evolution toward life, and surface reactions on minerals. He and his research team attempt to reconstruct possible pathways toward life on Earth by model experiments. Assuming that RNA-like molecules could initially have served both as information carriers and catalysts in the chemical evolution leading to the origin of life, Arrhenius studies traces of biomolecules with these functions left in the earliest record on Earth. His findings extend to the oldest sedimentary rock formations known on Earth (over 3.87 billion years old). Arrhenius's well-known findings include a claim that Earth could have cooled in as little as 10 million years to low enough temperatures to sustain the start of life. Arrhenius' studies of RNA precursor molecules is through the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) in Exobiology.Among his landmark papers, Arrhenius has focused on entropy and charge in molecular evolution and the role of phosphates in chemical evolution. In astrobiology, Arrhenius has performed biomarker studies on what are believed to be meteoritic materials from Mars, including phosphates. He is currently involved in a study of organic chemistry and possible prebiological chemistry on Titan.

Capsule Bio:

Professor Arrhenius joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanology, the precursor to UCSD, in 1959, as Professor of Oceanography. He is a leader in Scripps' Marine Research Division. Arrheniu earned his Ph.D. in from the University of Stockholm in 1953). From 1953-1965, Arrhenius was a Visiting Research Fellow at Caltech. From 1958-61 he was the chairman of SIO's Division of Marine Goelogy and Geochemistry, and its Department of Earth Sciences. He was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University (1965). Since 1986, Arrhenius has been on the advisory board of UC's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. He is a Member of International Academy of Austronautics (1975); Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1975); Fellow, American Mineralogical Society (1978); and Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1981).

Selected Publications:

Google Scholar Publications

Gustaf Arrhenius
Institute Affiliation:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography


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