According to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences there is life up to six miles under the seafloor—an extreme place where no one thought life was possible—below the Mariana Trench
According to experts, these may be the DEEPEST traces of life on our planet.
Experts have come across a HIDDEN ecosystem that lurks six miles beneath the Mariana Trench. The discovery is of extreme importance since it offers new clues for finding alien life in our solar system.
Can you imagine what our planet may have looked like some four billion years ago? Scientists say that life was hard to come by. In fact, back then, our planet experienced very frequent asteroid and meteor strikes that destroyed the surface of the planet making food hard to come by. Microbes were facing a ‘mission impossible’ in order to survive.
In their search for shelter, early life may have stayed safe by staying deep below the surface—in places where you’d never expect to find traces of life—living as deep as sim MILES beneath Earth’s seafloor.
This is the conclusion experts came to based on a NEW study that discovered evidence of microbes living today beneath the DEEPEST place on Earth, a supermassive underwater canyon called the Mariana Trench, reports National Geographic.
According to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences there is life up to six miles under the seafloor—an extreme place where no one thought life was possible.
In order to make the discovery, experts remotely operated submarines to retrieve 46 samples of a rock called serpentine from a mud volcano near the Mariana Trench—the deepest place on Earth—southwest of Japan, Phys.org reports.
Interestingly, as noted by Live Science, the serpentine may have originated more than 12 miles under the seafloor before being spewed out by the mud volcano.
The team of experts was led by Oliver Plümper, a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. While experts did not find intact microbes, they did observe traces of organic material.
Hydrocarbons, lipids, and amino acids were found in 46 rock samples drilled from the mud volcano chemicals associated with bacterial waste products, reported Science Alert.
“These organic molecules definitely hint toward life, but the source of that life, as the authors admit, is not clear yet,” says Frieder Klein, a researcher studying serpentinization at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
“This is another hint at a great, deep biosphere on our planet,” Plumper told National Geographic. “It could be huge or very small, but there is definitely something going on that we don’t understand yet.”
Dr. Ivan Savov from the University of Leeds, who also worked on the research, added in a statement that the findings reveal a “new insight into the habitability of the planet.”
“Given the difficulty of obtaining samples from the deep earth, there have not been many opportunities to explore how microbial life can be supported in the absence of photosynthesis,” Savov explained.
“The mantle rocks we studied give us a link between the deep carbon cycle and the surface world.”
Experts suggest that life may be able to survive at such extreme depths due to the fact that ‘subduction zones’ are relatively cool since magma does not hit the sinking crust until it reaches a lower point in the mantle.
As explained by Nat Geo, the known temperature limit of life—around 120 degrees Celsius—wouldn’t come to a depth of at least ten kilometers below the ocean floor.