Scientists say life can survive surprisingly extreme seafloor settings With the right heating from hydrothermal vents, ocean bottoms might be able to support life on Earth or even other worlds.

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With the right heating from hydrothermal vents, ocean bottoms may be able to support life on Earth or even other worlds.

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A chimney structure from the Sea Cliff hydrothermal vent field is located more than 8,800 feet (2,700 m) below the ocean surface at the submarine boundary of the Pacific and Gorda tectonic plates.


Life can thrive in the deepest, darkest places underwater. It’s the lead of a new study that finds specific types of sea floor may actually make it an unlikely habitat for certain types of life.

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“On land, in Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere, it is familiar to many people that life requires energy to make its molecules,” Arizona State University professor Everett Schock said in a statement. “In surprising contrast, around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, warm fluids mix with extremely cold seawater to create conditions where life molecules release energy.”

Using thermodynamic modeling and data from the genome of a single-celled organism called Methanocaldococcus janaschi, which lives in deep-sea vents, scientists determined vents formed from rock lows in silica—called ultramafic-hosted Also known as systems – may allow microscopic life forms to flourish. Vents are essentially cracks located on the bottom of the ocean. The work is published in the journal JGR Biogeosciences.

Co-author Jeffrey Dick from Central South University in China said, “This discovery provides a new perspective not only on biochemistry but also on ecology as it suggests that certain groups of organisms are more naturally adapted to specific hydrothermal environments.” ”

Research confirms the old adage that “life finds a way” and adds some details to the growing list. Extremist species capable of surviving in crazy environments From freezing temperatures and high doses of radiation to the vacuum of space.

It also has implications for the search for life beyond Earth, as the moons Enceladus, Europa and other worlds in our solar system with subsurface oceans may have similar vent systems that could support alien life.

“As we explore,” Schock said, “we are reminded again and again that we should never overestimate that where we live is worth living for life.”

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