Hydrologically sealed boreholes that penetrate through the sediment and into the basaltic crust currently provide the only direct means to sample microbial life within the fluids percolating through the Earth’s vast sediment-buried subseafloor basement. Only a handful of boreholes have been designed specifically for microbiological sampling of the basaltic subseafloor. Researchers plan to compare microbial and viral communities in two sets of subseafloor observatories to reveal a broader view of subseafloor microbial diversity. The project hopes to provide the first comprehensive assessment of the microbial community structure in what may be the largest biome on (or in) the planet supporting microbial life, the subseafloor basement biosphere.
Proposer’s Name: Michael Rappe, University of Hawaii at Manoa