Life Below Seafloor

Life Below Seafloor
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In a new study, researchers have proposed a theory that life could exist up to -10,000m below the seafloor in mud volcanoes along subduction zones.

According to Oliver Plumper of Utrecht University’s Department of Science, chemolithoautotrophic microbials could exist inside and under mud volcanoes in serpentinization-based systems. The researchers came to this conclusion after analyzing organic matter found in serpentine fragments ejected from mud volcanoes in the forearc of a subduction zone under the Pacific Ocean. The organic matter in the rocks were found to have some similarities to compounds in other serpentinization-based systems.

The researchers believe that these protected ecosystems in the forearc of subduction zones could have hosted microbial life during catastrophic events on Earth. “These types of protected ecosystem may have allowed deep biosphere to thrive, despite violent phases during Earth’s history such as the late heavy bombardment and global mass extinctions,” the researchers stated.

This research study has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.