Tag Archives: hydrothermal vent

Hard rock life

Scientists are digging deep into the Earth’s surface collecting census data on the microbial denizens of the hardened rocks. What they’re finding is that, even miles deep and halfway across the globe, many of these communities are somehow quite similar.

The results, which were presented at the American Geophysical Union conference Dec. 8, suggest that these communities may be connected, said Matthew Schrenk, Michigan State University geomicrobiologist. (more…)

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How to Hunt a Space Rock

Peter Willis and his team of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., had a problem. Actually, more like they had a solution that needed a problem. Confused? Let’s let Peter give it a shot…

“My team and I came up with a new lab on a chip,” said Willis, a scientist at JPL’s Microdevices Lab. “It essentially miniaturizes an automated sample processing and analysis instrument that could be put aboard future spacecraft and sent to distant planets, moons and asteroids. One challenge we have is finding new and interesting samples to try our chip on.” (more…)

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Scientists Define New Limits of Microbial Life in Undersea Volcanoes

A third of Earth’s organisms live in rocks and sediments, but their lives have been a mystery

By some estimates, a third of Earth’s organisms live in our planet’s rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery.

This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world.

In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. (more…)

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WHOI Website Will Take Viewers Deep into the Gulf

It may take years before scientists determine the full impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But, utilizing the human-occupied submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry, researchers are about to investigate—and view first-hand—the possible effects of the spill at the bottom of the Gulf.

And, from Dec. 6-14, the mission will be relayed to the public as it happens on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) Dive and Discover website (https://divediscover.whoi.edu). (more…)

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‘Novel Ocean-Crust Mechanism Could Affect World’s Carbon Budget’

The Earth is constantly manufacturing new crust, spewing molten magma up along undersea ridges at the boundaries of tectonic plates. The process is critical to the planet’s metabolism, including the cycle of underwater life and the delicate balance of carbon in the ocean and atmosphere. 

Now, scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have observed ocean crust forming in an entirely unexpected way—one that may influence those cycles of life and carbon and, in turn, affect the much-discussed future of the world’s climate. 

Working at the Guaymas basin in the Gulf of California, WHOI scientists confirmed what they suspected from brief glimpses of the area during previous missions: The inner Earth is injecting swaths of magma called sills as far as 50 kilometers away from the plate boundary, on each side of the ridge —nearly 10 times farther from such an active ocean ridge than had been observed before.  (more…)

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