ananyo writes "The prevailing scientific view holds that life began in hydrothermal vents in the deep sea. But a controversial study (abstract) suggests that inland pools of condensed and cooled geothermal vapor have the ideal characteristics for the origin of life. The study hinges on the observation that the composition of the cytoplasm of modern cells is very different to that of seawater. On the other hand, the mix of metal ions in cytoplasm is (almost exclusively) found where where hot hydrothermal fluid brings the ions to the surface — places such as geysers and mud pots. There are a number of problems with the study, however — for instance, a lack of land 4 billion years ago would have made it difficult for life to start in such pools."