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Press Release 08-086

Bacteria "Feed" on Earth's Ocean-Bottom Crust

Rocks on and under seafloor offer feast for microbes

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Scientists have found that rocks beneath the seafloor are teeming with microbial life.

Scientists have found that rocks beneath the seafloor are teeming with microbial life.

Credit: Nicolle Rager-Fuller/National Science Foundation


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Biologist Katrina Edwards of the University of Southern California discusses her research on seafloor bacteria on ocean-bottom rocks.

Credit: National Science Foundation / University of Southern California

 

Rocks made of basalt on and under the ocean bottom harbor surprising numbers of deep-sea bacteria.

Rocks made of basalt on and under the ocean bottom harbor surprising numbers of deep-sea bacteria.

Credit: NOAA/WHOI


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Bacteria form large undersea mats in some areas of the ocean's deepest realms.

Bacteria form large undersea mats in some areas of the ocean's deepest realms.

Credit: Ridge2000/National Science Foundation

 

Diversity of microbes on rocks at and under the seafloor rivals that at deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

The diversity of microbes on rocks at and under the seafloor rivals that at deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Credit: Nicolle Rager-Fuller, National Science Foundation