Research Points to Geochemical Source of Life Beneath Ocean Floor

Here’s a bit of a puzzle that I thought I would bring up. I came across an article that discusses findings of research conducted by scientists on board the JOIDES Resolution, a research ship that collects core samples of rocks from the oceanic crust beneath the ocean floor.

Dr. Mark A. Lever of Center for Geomicrobiology at Aarhus University, Denmark reports on finding life in the porous basalt that makes up much the oceanic crust that is fundamentally different from life formed through photosynthesis. He states,

“We collected rock samples 55 kilometres from the nearest outcrop where seawater is entering the basalt. Here the water in the basaltic veins has a chemical composition that differs fundamentally from seawater, for instance, it is devoid of oxygen produced by photosynthesis. The microorganisms we found are native to basalt . . .

“It all began when I extracted DNA from the rock samples we had brought up. To my great surprise, I identified genes that are found in methane-producing microorganisms. We subsequently analysed the chemical signatures in the rock material, and our work with carbon isotopes provided clear evidence that the organic material did not derive from dead plankton introduced by seawater, but was formed within the oceanic crust.”

I’m not entirely sure what the ramifications of a finding like this are, but it seems to be evidence that there may be much more to life on earth than is normally supposed. It seems to tie in with the school of thought that suggests that petroleum may be abiotic in nature — somehow formed from deep within the earth, rather than being formed by decomposed and transformed organic matter. This report suggests a geochemical source of life and energy, one that is not normally discussed in the scientific realm.

To me, this all goes to show that there is so much yet to be discovered about life, matter, energy — and of course that is the focus of this site, and something that has been discussed here many times.

The complete article from EurekAlert can be read here. A full report has been published in the March 15th issue of the journal Science. An abstract can be found here.(Subscription is required for full text)

  • Morganism

    Thomas Golds “Deep Hot Biosphere”

    There are many archea families that split off iron, sulphur,etc.
    And much less discussion of the methanotrophs, that actually produce methane, than the methanogens, which consume it.

    It is also the the biggest bet by these researchers that the major groups yet to be discovered is going to be a fungi.

    That these families also form electrical cables on the ocean bottom to transfer electrons to power chemical reactions to other group members, shows that extensive chains of biochem are most likely the manufacturers of all the platinum group metals, and all but the sedimentary collections of the salts.
    (bacterial cables)

    Most of the parametals are now believed to be formed as nano particles by halobacteria and then wicked into larger cracks by water.
    These “hydrologic deposits” were actually thought to be high pressure/heat water thru rock cracks,collecting metals, but there has never been found a (chem) pathway for that. Now the aussies have published a study that shows that gold deposits are consolidations of these nanoparticles by earthquakes !

    Pretty cool.

    There is NO proof that coal is even reduced from organics. Fossils cell walls not-withstanding, it must just be an easy capture for carbon to capture the methane in organics if the halobacteria are processing it.
    Oil is waste for them.
    Gold points out that ALL of the coal so far found, is ABOVE an oil deposit, and that the biomass/coal is just a sponge for methane leaking UP. Is quite possible Canada knows this, and is getting us to invest/buy the low quality coal and tar sands, to finance the removal of the overburden, and will later harvest the deep, sweet crude.
    And sell that at a premium.

    Every, single, deep well drilled has found SOME methane. Everywhere.

    There is also a big problem with subduction, to even get water down there now appears unlikely, as there needs to be a lava “lens” to produce the malleability to deform and slip enough to allow bedrock to deform. This is supposed to completely reduce/remove the water from the rock. ( costa rica, and nicaragua, this month. also see eclogite)

    The other fascinating thing with the Halo’s , is the fact that one antartic researcher has found methanogens in the center of every single ancient ice core. These have been converting ancient methane gas into CO2, seriously messing with the paleo gas record. He found the same thing in the greenland cores too. So this points to the “methane gun” hypothosis as the most likely driver of the original reducing atmo fluctuations.

  • georgehants

    The Hindu
    News » National
    United Nations, March 22, 2013
    1,800 kids worldwide die daily due to unsafe water: U.N. report
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/1800-kids-worldwide-die-daily-due-to-unsafe-water-un-report/article4537857.ece

  • Iggy Dalrymple

    Imagine how many dead dinosaurs it took to make Titan’s methane seas.

    • Kim

      Were stuck on stupid.

      Respect
      Kim

  • Greenwin

    Thanks Admin, Peter, Roger for this interesting look at biotic/abiotic potentials in deep earth “soil.” Whatever the final verdict, it is clear that combustion of these substances is an inefficient / high cost path to energy.

    Jones Bean and Mark Snoswell, regular contributors to the Vortex LENR discussions, have published a very good overview of LENR “A Short History of Hydrogen Thermal Anomalies.” http://chavascience.com/hydrogen-2/lenr-anomalous-heat

    They also reference a fascinating confirmation by Ronald C. Bourgoin of fractional quantum states of hydrogen (hydrino) as predicted by Mills and Naudts (relativistic hydrino states.)

    ” The possible existence of fractional quantum states in the hydrogen atom has been debated since the advent of quantum theory in 1924… This paper will show that the general wave equation predicts exactly that number of reciprocal energy states.”

    http://www.m-hikari.com/astp/astp2007/astp5-8-2007/bourgoinASTP5-8-2007.pdf

    Of particular interest is the appearance of shortening standing waves taking on the appearance of “particles.” This predicts that all sub-atomic phenomenon derive from waveform energy AND that an infinite number of sub-sub-atomic particles, charms, quarks, bosons, etc. can be found by consciously predicting and “observing” them. Thus questioning the wisdom of giant accelerator projects perpetuating themselves.

    • georgehants

      Greenwin, your last paragraph.
      And even possibly the Universe can change depending on the beliefs of those looking.
      Dark Energy etc. today, something else tomorrow, ad infinitum.
      A little to advanced for science I think since the demise of the open-minded Quantum Geniuses of the early 20th century.

  • Abe Thornee

    This hypothesis makes LENR insignificant. Why pursue LENR, if we have replenishing supplies of crude oil sipping through the mantle?

    • Greenwin

      Energy density. Combustion pollution. Eco-system destruction. Energy monopoly. Resource conflicts, warfare etc.

      • Abe Thornee

        These can be dealt with traditional well established means, or with progressive steps. There are solutions for most of these issues in place already.

        • Roger Bird

          You should have said “These could be …blah blah… if people were more perfect morally and emotionally.” But they’re not. And they are not being dealt with. What makes you think that wishing is going to cause us to deal with them?

      • buffalo

        nickel monopolies?nickel warfare?resource conflicts?i can picture it.

        • Roger Bird

          “nickel monopolies?” Noop. Way too much nickel far too easy to access.

          “nickel warfare?” ditto

          “resource conflicts?” ditto

          “I can picture it.” Only if you eat too much spicy food.

          • buffalo

            roger? A nickel mine is easy to access?

            • Roger Bird

              Nickel is incredibly easy to obtain. It is usually a by-product of iron mining. It is one of the most plentiful metals on Earth.

          • Omega Z

            According to Rossi & a Few others-
            The Nickel mutations are/were merely a side effect-

            One Which Rossi has nearly eliminated all together with improved E-cats.
            From 10% to almost undetectable. Hence all the Nickel is recycled.

            No Nickel Wars or Monopolies even if someone was so inclined to attempt. Which would be silly considering it’s abundance.

            Not even mentioning a dozen Nations & 1/2 Dozen Corporations who have or will have the ability to go to the Asteroid belt & retrieve multi-Billion ton Nickel Asteroids.

            • Omega Z

              Those looking for Bottlenecks in LENR Technology.

              Copper will be used more, but offset by less in other areas.

              Nickel is so abundant here & in the Asteroid belt to exceed the Life of our Solar system. To try and Corner the Market on it would be comparable to Cornering Salt Water.

              Tungsten???
              For the Tungsten Steel cores for High Temps & Longevity. More Rare & the cores will need total replacement at intervals.

              Ceramics could handle the Temps, But, The Tungsten also acts as a Gamma/Radiation Shield in high temp cores.

              Lead could be used, but in high temp systems, the container would have to be much larger to allow a temp differential so as not to melt it. Size/Weight would significantly increase costs.

              Consider the Proposed 1Mw H-Cat of approximate 1mx1mx2m in size to the Shipping container Low temp 1Mw E-cat.

              Imagine the size of a 1Mw H-cat if Lead were used in place of Tungsten shielding.

              There is your Long Term Metal Investment. Not Only will it be used in the H-cat Cores, But the Turbines & any other devices for heat exchange connected with it.
              Increased Demand for an already expensive Metal. China has 42% of the World reserves???

    • Peter Roe

      There is no real evidence that oil/gas supplies are ‘self replenishing’. It is much more likely that deposits are simply interconnected, so when one is drained, seepage from nearby undiscovered deposits may partially replenish the field that is being tapped.

      As Greenwin says, even if reserves are larger than is known, few of the problems associated with burning hydrocarbons will go away. It’s time to move on.

      • Peter Roe

        I see that Omega Z has already made this point, and expanded on the Saudi use of seawater in wells, further down the page.

  • georgehants

    Soon they will be asking for lots more atmospheric pollution so that it can be removed to make Acrylate.
    That name Nickel turns up as well.
    ——
    From PHYSORG
    In the presence of nickel and other metal catalysts, CO2 and ethylene gas form an acrylate precursor configured in a five-membered ring. The challenge has been to crack that ring open, allowing a carbon-carbon double bond to form, creating acrylate. Lewis acids do the trick. Credit: Berkskoetter lab/Brown University (Phys.org) —Researchers at Brown and Yale have demonstrated a new “enabling technology” that could use excess carbon dioxide to produce acrylate, a valuable commodity chemical involved in the manufacture of everything from polyester cloth to disposable diapers.
    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-co2-valuable-chemical-cheaply.html#jCp

  • yamal

    more rossi says:

    ‘Andrea Rossi
    March 21st, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Dear Giuseppe:
    I think the applications will be declined in many directions. Obviously licenses will be given for particular applications.
    Warm Regards,
    A.R.’

    obviously… ?

  • Curbina

    I have recently finished an online course of astrobiology and I can say that the best summary of our current knowledge about is “We have a lot of guesses but the possibilities are son endless that we really don’t know”.

    Hence, still after 200 years of Scientific Breakthroughs, we are still in the outer layer of the onion.

    • georgehants

      If only a few more “scientists” where as wise and honest as yourself.

      • Curbina

        Well George, I think that at least in Astrobiology, people are really aware of this. BTW, the research commented in this post by Frank is indeed astrobiological research. Every single new discovery in this field mostly challenges all what is “known”.

        • georgehants

          Curbina, agreed and would it not be Wonderful if all of science agreed that we know very little and allowed the mystery and fun of finding out to shine through to our young scientists.

          • Curbina

            One can only keep hoping that the flame that drove the great scientific advances of the late XIX century is found again by those that have become so certain of everything that have lost their north.

            • http://www.shake-speares-bible.com psi

              Hear hear.

  • carlolunaa

    Really interesting topic! I would like to make a contribution. According to the following hypothesis in the Earth’s mantle are all conditions and elements for creating primordial water of the oceans and the formation of living organisms

    carloluna
    January 18th, 2013 at 5:01 AM
    dear Andrea
Let me express two other concepts
    Mechanical explanations of gravitation
    “Similar to Newton, but mathematically in greater detail, Bernhard Riemann assumed in 1853 that the gravitational aether is an incompressible fluid and normal matter represents sinks in this aether. So if the aether is destroyed or absorbed proportionally to the masses within the bodies, a stream arises and carries all surrounding bodies into the direction of the central mass. Riemann speculated that the absorbed aether is transferred into another world or dimension.Another attempt to solve the energy problem was made by Ivan Osipovich Yarkovsky in 1888. Based on his aether stream model, which was similar to that of Riemann, he argued that the absorbed aether might be converted into new matter, leading to a mass increase of the celestial bodies.
Criticism: As in the case of Le Sage’s theory, the disappearance of energy without explanation violates the energy conservation law. Also some drag must arise, and no process which leads to a creation of matter is known.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_explanations_of_gravitation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expanding_Earth
    no process which leads to a creation of matter is known?
    But the confirmation that the Higgs boson exists, spending billions of euro, what has it brought? to demonstrate the creation of matter from the Higgs field (ether)
    Perovskite
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_(structure) 
At the high pressure conditions of the Earth’s lower mantle, the pyroxene enstatite, MgSiO3, transforms into a denser perovskite-structured polymorph; this phase may be the most common mineral in the Earth.[3] This phase has the orthorhombically distorted perovskite structure (GdFeO3-type structure) that is stable at pressures from ~24 GPa to ~110 GPa
material properties
Perovskite materials exhibit many interesting and intriguing properties from both the theoretical and the application point of view. Colossal magnetoresistance, ferroelectricity, superconductivity, charge ordering, spin dependent transport, high thermopower and the interplay of structural, magnetic and transport properties are commonly observed features in this family. These compounds are used as sensors and catalyst electrodes in certain types of fuel cells[4] and are candidates for memory devices and spintronics applications.[5]
production
The most common synthesis often involve processes of calcination or overheating of mixtures of metal salts. The enormous interest for applications has led the research, not only in the discovery and characterization of new synthetic perovskites but also of new synthetic methods with different reagents and catalysts that make production more economical on an industrial scale. The La0.8Sr0.2CoO3 oxide (abbreviated as LSCO) was prepared using the properties of adsorption of the cellulose,”
it seems to me that this material can trigger LENR processes in the mantle.

    Carloluna
    January 26th, 2013 at 8:42 AM
    Dear Andrea

    Allow me to further develop the argument relating to the transmutations 
that occur in the Earth’s mantle . I will try to formulate a hypothesis on the origin of the oceans.
It is possible that an endothermic reaction due to the piezoelectricity of the crystals of the mantle,
for the presence of oxygen (the mantle is formed for the 44.8% oxygen content of the silicates) and hydrogen (…materialization of ether?), is the cause of the genesis of ocean water?
According to this hypothesis the deep hydrothermal vents do not recycle then only the water of the oceans above but Introduce primordial water brought up from the deep mantle.. if the earth is expanding this seems to me a good explanation on the formation of the oceans.

    • Peter Roe

      “the absorbed aether might be converted into new matter, leading to a mass increase of the celestial bodies”

      I have always had an (only partially rational) attachment to the ‘expanding earth’ theory as an attempt to explain how large dinosaurs that calculations indicate could not have supported their own weight, did in fact exist.

      http://www.expanding-earth.org/

      Unfortunately, subduction zones and mountain building present a near-fatal argument against this otherwise attractive idea, but there are some who argue that these my have alternative origins:

      http://earthexpansion.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/stephen-hurrell-dinosaurs-and-expanding.html

      Perhaps it is possible that some factor other than mass may cause gravity (and possibly other cosmological ‘constants’) to vary with time?

      • carlolunaa

        SUBDUCTION WAS INVENTED
        http://www.expanding-earth.org/page_3.htm

        Certainly the earth is expanding. certainly relativity is a false theory. Certainly there ether and the nourishment of the earth.
        Certainly in the Earth’s mantle Lern phenomena occur due to the piezoelectric minerals. Of course, the mantle is the seat of the birth of ocean water. Certainly, as demonstrated by Reich in “bionic experiments” the life developed from inorganic elements in the presence of water and heat. Surely this is the origin of oil.

  • Roger Bird

    I think that we have a semantic problem. When “abiotic” was used first in this discussion, I think that it meant that some or all of our petroleum was not the result of the breakdown and compression of surface plants and animals. It was assumed by those who invented the use of the term “abiotic” that living critters were not involved with this petroleum that oozed up from deep within the Earth. The word “abiotic” literally means “without life” or without the help of life. But this article is saying that this “abiotic” petroleum, if such exists, is in fact not abiotic, but is in fact biotic, but from life forms that are completely separate from the surface plants and animals of old which have always been assumed to be the source of our petroleum.

    Perhaps we need to invent a word that would mean “different life” or “subterranean life”, like perhaps “sub-biotic”. This new data point of this article may be indicating that some or all petroleum is “sub-biotic”. If you have a better word, I am ready to accept it. (:->)

    Truly abiotic petroleum probably exists only on the outer planets on orbs like Neptune and Triton. But it is possible that petroleum is abiotic, biotic, and “sub-biotic”. There is no good reason that an petrologically ignorant person like myself can think of that petroleum would not have all three sources.

  • Bento

    Rossi ‘s gonna have to hurry

    Charles Chase Solve for X, you can find it on youtube
    I couldn’t find a link yet here on E catworld,
    if it’s already there, please ignore this message.

    • Peter Roe

      Lockheed Martin seem to have an improved configuration for a plasma confinement field and little more than that at present. Remaining problems: (1) achieve a sufficient temperature to trigger fusion, (2) find some way of extracting useful energy from fusing tritium/deuterium plasma, (3) get much more energy out than is used to initiate the confinement field and trigger the fusion reaction.

      Chase’s claim that a useful reactor could be built within a few years seems only slightly less optimistic than the hope of ever getting toroidal fusion reactors to work. But good luck to them anyway.

    • dsm

      Thanks for that …

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

      Interesting video & reinforces several comments passed to me last year by NASA associates, that there were a lot more projects going on ‘quietly’ behind the scenes than most of us realize.

      DSM

      • Omega Z

        DSM

        I Believe it was Mckubre after listing most of the projects were aware of here that there was several projects quietly under way that most aren’t aware of. And that 2 or 3 were close to being scaled up for market.

  • theBuckWheat

    This news also implies that hydrocarbon deposits originate, not from decaying terrestrial life that was buried long ago, but from microbial activity further below. This destroys the idea that hydrocarbons should not be used because they are not “sustainable”.

    It further shows that the planet is almost literally awash in energy sources. The only limiting factors are the costs (including externalities like environmental) involved in their development and use.

    And it is the externalities like pollution that may indicate that utility-scale power production is best accomplished via walk-away-safe forms of nuclear power like thorium. I am certainly cheering for commercially successful LENR. Given the choice I would rather not have to burn something to stay warm or enjoy my air-conditioner. (Sadly, at present my air-conditioner is coal-fired.)

  • Peter Roe

    Actually these findings are not particularly novel – it’s been clear for some time that almost any environment containing liquid water will also contain micro-organisms of one kind or another. As mentioned in the article, some of the best known are the extremophiles that make up the ecology of deep ocean vent systems, but plenty of others are already known.

    Most of the anaerobes are methanogenic ‘archaea’ – bacteria-like organisms that are probably remnants of the first life forms on Earth (when there was no oxigen of course) which hang on in oxygen-free environments, using chemical and thermal energy to drive their biology.

    The puzzle with the report, and the problem with the idea that these organisms may be the/a source of fossilised hydrocarbons is – if they live in an anoxic environment, i.e., with no significant connection with ocean waters, where would the quantities of CO2 required to make gas or oil come from? The fact that no oxygen flows to this environment from the ocean water above would also preclude the passage of CO2, or in fact any significant influence on ocean water composition as speculated in the article. The isotopic analysis of carbon involved seems to confirm that the carbon cycle is closed within this system, and the carbon must originate from within the basalt, and is continously recycles through an ecosystem containing methane producing organisms and others that ‘feed’ on the methane to recycle the carbon.

    The ability of life to go almost anywhere is amazing, but I don’t think the discovery is going to shake any paradigms. End of lecture!

    • Warthog

      Why would they need CO2 to “make gas or oil”?? There was plenty of methane, ammonia, hydrogen and other reducing species in the condensing matter than became “Earth”. Sulfur probably stood in for oxygen in those “life chemistries”.

      • Peter Roe

        I was addressing the question of possible generation of gas or oil deposits over the last few tens or hundreds of million years by the archaea in this ecosystem. There may have been plenty of methane etc. on the primordial Earth but there are only minute quantities in ocean floor basalts, and most of this is simply recycled within the basalt ecosystem as confirmed by isotopic analysis.

        Oil and gas contain large amounts of carbon, and this would have to come from somewhere outside the system if fossil hydrocarbons are created by the organisms Lever has found, as only very small amounts are chemically present in basalt that has not been exposed to atmosphere. IMO not enough atmospheric CO2 (the only feasible source of carbon within rocks) would ever reach this ecosystem for it or similar ecosystems to be the source of gas and oil deposits.

        In any case coal demonstrably originates from plants, so why not oil, gas, bitumen and so on, from slightly different origins or geological processes.

        • Warthog

          You’re still making huge assumptions. There are probably other bacterial systems in non-basaltic rock, or even in other basaltic zones. This is ONE sample of a huge unknown volume. Nothing says that higher hydrocarbons are formed in basaltic rocks, or even by this bacterial system. A likely route is the up-conversion of primordial methane into longer-chained (and ring) carbon molecules by reducing bacteria. Assuming that the needed carbon has to come from CO2 is quite a stretch from extremely limited data.

          • Peter Roe

            In fact I didn’t say that CO2 is the likely carbon source for methanogenesis in this or any other system – I said that the fact that it was very unlikely to reach the ecosystem in question was an argument against this being a source of ‘fossil’ hydrocarbons.

            I don’t discount the possibility that other archaea ecosystems with access to a constant supply of methane or other short chain HCs might be a source of oil, but unfortunately there is (AFAIK) no evidence that there are vast deep deposits of ‘primordial methane’ that could act as the carbon feedstock. If there were in fact such deposits, then true ‘abiotic’ formation of longer-chain HCs though geothermal processes would become a possibility, but in the absence of evidence of such deposits, both theories are null.

            In any case (as I said earlier) coal is clearly of vegetable origin, so why postulate a separate theory of origin for oil and gas deposits, when there is very little anomalous evidence that might make this necessary?

  • catman

    The Russians and to some extent the Americans have known and recognized for years this was the case. Wells long abandoned for dry in LA and PA were found to be filling again. The Saudi’s have “killed” their wells with saltwater injection. The real truth is we are not running out of oil. Never were, and will not unless we kill this unique biosphere. What we have is a supply and political problem. Perhaps an environmental one too. But, it has long been known we were not going to “run out”.

    The E-cat will solve the all these problems with oil and relegate it to feedstock status and niche fuel usage.

    • Omega Z

      Water in the Oil Well.

      That would be water flooding to increase Oil recovery by up to 30%.
      Water doesn’t Kill Wells.
      The Reason the Saudi’s use salt water as do most Arid Countries is because fresh water is to valuable for such Oil Recovery Technics.

      The Seepage of oil into the well is how all Oil is recovered. A Natural equalization. Equalization comes to a point where it’s no longer cost effective.

      Think of it a a water table. If the Water table goes dry, there’s still water & moisture down their. Just not enough that a pump can pull it up. Oil is the same way. Except you can use water injection/flooding to extend the production to a point.

      And your right. We won’t actually run out of Oil. It will just become to expensive to recover & we run out of money first.

  • yamal

    i don’t see how this report ties in with abiogenic hydrocarbon origins. if anything, it is another piece of the puzzle slightly strengthening the biogenic position. anyway – an interesting subject.