A large number of hardy microbes can evolve miles below the ocean floor according to a study that reports the probable discovery of life forms near the Mariana Trench.
Complex organic compounds discovered in rocks from ocean volcanic mud suggest that microbial life forms can live up to about 10,000 meters below the ocean floor. Although researchers don’t yet have definitive proof that these are indeed life forms, similar chemical compounds have been found in other places where hardy microbes cling to life.
» Although we cannot pinpoint the exact origin of organic matter, chemical analysis of the constituents resembles molecular signatures that could be produced by microbial life. write the researchers in their study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
In the latter, the researchers explain that they ventured to the confines of the Chamorro du Sud volcano, an underwater volcano located near the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean at 10,994 meters deep for its point. the lowest.
It was there that they found traces of biological activity in 46 soil samples of serpentine, a dark green mottled metamorphic rock reminiscent of snake skin. Serpentine forms when mantle rock (called olivine) reacts with water, producing methane and gas that certain microbes can feed on.
After examining their serpentine samples, the researchers found traces of organic matter that was very similar to that produced by microbes living in more accessible places. According to the team, this suggests that it is possible that these serpentine samples are evidence of life very far below the ocean surface, down to around 10,000 meters.