Evidence for Microbial Carbon and Sulfur Cycling in Deeply Buried Ridge Flank Basalt

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Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1305-1308
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229240

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Under the Sea Floor

Microorganisms living in basaltic sea floor buried beneath sediments derive energy from inorganic components from the host rocks that interact with infiltrating seawater, which brings dissolved oxygen and other trace nutrients with it. Lever et al. (p. 1305) directly sampled the subseafloor community off the eastern flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Pacific Ocean and found evidence for ongoing microbial sulfate reduction and methanogenesis. Multiyear incubation experiments with samples of host rock confirmed the microbial activities measured in situ.