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The Subseafloor Biosphere at Mid-Ocean Ridges

The Subseafloor Biosphere at Mid-Ocean Ridges


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Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Geophysical Monograph Series, Volume 144.

Awareness has grown over the past several years that the subseafloor may harbor a substantial biosphere sustained by volcanic heat and chemical fluxes from the Earth's interior. This realization has profound scientific implications for questions concerning the origins of life, the true extent of Earth's biosphere, and the search for life on other planets. At mid-ocean spreading centers, the fluxes that sustain life are the highest, and the hydrothermal fluids in which micro-organisms grow are readily accessible on the seafloor. In addition, periodic volcanic eruptions flush fluids and microbes from the subsurface, and volcanic gases are believed to drive spectacular microbial blooms. Although ridges are challenging locations in which to work, they are unique in the oceans because of the diversity and dynamic nature of their subsurface environments.


The Subsurface Biosphere at Mid-Ocean Ridges: Issues and Challenges
John A. Baross, William S. D. Wilcock, Deborah S. Kelley, Edward F. DeLong, 5. Craig Cary 1

Physical Limits to Subsurface Life

The Upper Temperature Limit for Life Based on Hyperthermophile Culture Experiments
and Field Observations
James F. Holden and Roy M. Daniel 13

The Stability of Biomolecules and the Implications for Life at High Temperatures
Roy M. Daniel, James F. Holden, Jolanda Truter, Don A. Cowan, and Renate van Eckert 25

On the Edge of a Deep Biosphere: Real Animals in Extreme Environments
James J. Childress, Charles R. Fisher, Horst Felbeck, and Peter Girguis 41

The Subseafloor Environment at Mid-Ocean Ridges
Geophysical Constraints on the Subseafloor Environment Near Mid-Ocean Ridges
William S. D. Wilcock and Andrew T. Fisher 51

Diking, Event Plumes, and the Subsurface Biosphere at Mid-Ocean Ridge
Robert W. Embley and John E. Lupton 75

Fluid Flow and Fluid-Rock Interaction Within Ocean Crust: Reconciling Geochemical,
Geological, and Geophysical Observations
Wolfgang Bach, Susan E. Humphris, and Andrew T. Fisher 99

Serpentinization of Oceanic Peridotites: Implications for Geochemical Cycles
and Biological Activity
Gretchen L Fruh-Green, James A. D. Connolly Alessio Plas, Deborah S. Kelley, and Bernard Grobety 119

Environmental Conditions Within Active Seafloor Vent Structures: Sensitivity to Vent Fluid
Composition and Fluid Flow
Margaret Kingston Tivey 137

Energy Sources and Physiological Diversity

Geochemical Energy Sources That Support the Subsurface Biosphere
Everett L. Shock and Melanie E. Holland 153

Volatiles in Submarine Environments: Food for Life
Deborah S. Kelley Marvin D. Li I ley, and Gretchen L. Fruh-Green 167

Activation of Diatomic and Triatomic Molecules for the Synthesis of Organic Compounds:
Metal Catalysis at the Subseafloor Biosphere
George W. Luther, III 191

Potential Importance of Dissimilatory Fe(lll)-Reducing Microorganisms
in Hot Sedimentary Environments
Kazem Kashefi, Dawn. E. Holmes, Derek R. Lovley, and Jason M. Tor 199

Significance of Polysaccharides in Microbial Physiology and the Ecology of
Hydrothermal Vent Environments
Marybeth A. Pysz, Clemente I. Montero, Swapnil R. Chhabra, Robert M. Kelly and Kristina D. Rinker 213

Environmental Dynamics and Variability

Detection of and Response to Mid-Ocean Ridge Magmatic Events: Implications for
the Subsurface Biosphere
James P. Cowen, Edward T. Baker, and Robert W. Embley 227

Diffuse Flow Hydrothermal Fluids From 9°50'N East Pacific Rise: Origin, Evolution and
Biogeochemical Controls
Karen L. Von Damm and Marvin D. Lilley 245

Mixing, Reaction and Microbial Activity in the Sub-seafloor Revealed by
Temporal and Spatial Variation in Diffuse Flow Vents at Axial Volcano
David A. Butterfield, Kevin K. Roe, Marvin D. Lilley Julie A. Huber, John A. Baross, Robert W. Embley and Gary J. Massoth 269

Illuminating Subseafloor Ecosystems Using Microbial Tracers
Melanie E. Holland, John A. Baross, and James F. Holden 291

Sedimented Ridges as a Laboratory for Exploring the Subsurface Biosphere
Robert A. Zierenberg and Melanie E. Holland 305

Global Distribution and Comparisons

The Ocean Crust as a Bioreactor
Hubert Staudigel, Bradley Tebo, Art Yayanos, Harald Furnes, Katie Kelley, Terry Plank, and Karlis Muehlenbachs 325

Diversity of Life at the Geothermal Subsurface-Surface Interface: The Yellowstone Example
John R. Spear and Norman R. Pace 343

Unifying Principles of the Deep Terrestrial and Deep Marine Biospheres
Frederick S. Colwell and Richard P. Smith 355

Distribution of Unusual Archaea in Subsurface Biosphere
Ken Takai, Fumio Inagaki, and Koki Horikoshi 369

Future Directions

Studying the Deep Subsurface Biosphere: Emerging Technologies and Applications
S. Craig Cary, Barbara J. Campbell, and Edward F DeLong 383