Delaney, J. R.. University of Washington,
, . R.. ,

The recent discovery of vast outpourings of microbial material in close spatial and temporal association with submarine volcanic eruptions allows the strong inference that active subseafloor magma-hydrothermal systems are capable of sustaining a substantial hardrock infauna in the pores and the cracks of the oceanic crust. Hyperthermophilic Archaea cultured from water column-hosted eruptive plumes, but absent from the surrounding ambient seawater, provide strong evidence of a potentially large, unexplored, subseafloor microbial biosphere associated with mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal systems. If valid, this insight may give rise to a major new planetary paradigm: the brittle outer shell of volcanically active planets can harbour microbial biomass. Developing innovative approaches to explore this concept on earth will provide new insights into basic processes on our planet while offering invaluable guidelines in the search for similar life forms on other planets. An obvious target is Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, which may contain an ocean up to tens of kilometers deep beneath a thin three to six kilometer layer of ice. Submarine volcanoes are a likely means of maintaining this potential aquatic habitat as a layer above the brittle outer shell of Europa1s rocky interior.
Day: Tuesday, Feb. 2
Time: 09:15 - 09:30am
Location: Sweeney Center
Code: SS27TU0915S