A new study has discovered an abundance of microbial life deep beneath the ocean floor in ancient basalt that forms part of the Earths crust, in research that once more expands the realm of seemingly hostile or remote environments in which living organisms can apparently thrive.
The research was done off the coast of Oregon near a sea-floor spreading center on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, by scientists from Oregon State University and several other institutions. It will be published Friday in the journal Science.
In 3.5 million-year-old crust almost 1,000 feet beneath the bottom of the ocean, researchers found moderately hot water moving through the heavily-fractured basalt. The water was depleted in sulfate and greatly enriched with ammonium, suggesting biological activity in a high-pressure, undersea location far from the types of carbon or energy sources upon which most life on Earth is based. It was one of the most precise biological samplings ever taken from deep under the ocean floor, scientists say.
Stephen Giovannoni | EurekAlert!
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