Under Pressure: Studying Life Below the Sea Floor

Date: December 28, 2017

Source: Bigelow 

Deep at the bottom of the ocean, below thousands of feet of seawater, below even the rocky ocean crust that comprises the sea floor, lies something surprising: more water.

“It’s unintuitive, because most people think of rock as being solid. But it’s not; it has pores, and fractures, and cracks in it,” said Jackie Goordial, a postdoctoral researcher at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.

In fact, water percolating into the crust forms the largest aquifer on earth. This sub-seafloor system contains a whopping two percent of the ocean’s volume, and scientists believe it may be home to large amounts of microbial life.

These tiny microbes are of global importance. Their activity in the sub-seafloor environment shapes the chemistry of the ocean and its influence on the atmosphere.

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Posted on Categories Science