Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Expedition recovers mantle rocks with signs of life
by Staff Writers
East Boothbay ME (SPX) Feb 02, 2016

The drilling expedition was led by Co-Chief Scientists Dr. Gretchen Fruh-Green (ETH Zurich, Switzerland) and Dr. Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, USA. Image courtesy Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. For a larger version of this image please go here.

An international team of scientists - recently returned from a 47-day research expedition to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - have collected an unprecedented sequence of rock samples from the shallow mantle of the ocean crust that bear signs of life, unique carbon cycling, and ocean crust movement.

Led by Co-Chief Scientists Dr. Gretchen Fruh-Green (ETH Zurich, Switzerland) and Dr. Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, USA), the team collected these unique rock samples using seabed rock drills from Germany and the UK - the first time in the history of the decades-long scientific ocean drilling program that such technology has been utilized.

The aims of the expedition are to determine how mantle rocks are brought to the seafloor and react with seawater - such reactions may fuel life in the absence of sunlight, which may be how life developed early in Earth's history, or on other planets. The team also hopes to learn more about what happens to carbon during the reactions between the rocks and the seawater - processes that could impact on climate by sequestering carbon.

"The rocks collected on the expedition provide unique records of deep processes that formed the Atlantis Massif. We will also gain valuable insight into how these rocks react with circulating seawater at the seafloor during a process we call serpentinization and its consequences for chemical cycles and life" stated expedition Co-Chief Scientist Gretchen Fruh-Green.

"During drilling, we found evidence for hydrogen and methane in our samples, which microbes can 'eat' to grow and form new cells," explained Beth Orcutt, Co-Chief Scientist from Bigelow Laboratory. "Similar rocks and gases are found on other planets, so by studying how life exists in such harsh conditions deep below the seafloor, we inform the search for life elsewhere in the Universe."

The scientists are part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 357, conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) as part of the IODP. The expedition set off from Southampton, UK, on October 26, 2015, aboard the Royal Research Vessel James Cook (operated by the National Environment Research Council, UK), returning on December 11, 2015.

They brought with them the Rock Drill 2 from the British Geological Survey and the MeBo rock drill from MARUM in Bremen, Germany, for around-the-clock operations to collect rock cores from the Atlantis Massif, a 4,000-m tall underwater mountain along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The rock drills were equipped with new technologies to enable the scientists to detect signs of life in the rock samples.

During the past two weeks, the science party has been studying the rock samples in detail at the IODP Bremen Core Repository in Bremen, Germany. The science party consists of 31 scientists (16 female/15 male) from 13 different countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA), ranging from students to tenured professors. At the end of this sampling party, the first results of the expedition will be reported.


Related Links
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Explore The Early Earth at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Moon was produced by a head-on collision between Earth and a forming planet
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 29, 2016
The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a "planetary embryo" called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed, UCLA geochemists and colleagues report. Scientists had already known about this high-speed crash, which occurred almost 4.5 billion years ago, but many thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) at an angle ... read more

Russia postpones manned Lunar mission to 2035

Audi joins Google Lunar XPrize competition

Lunar mission moves a step closer

Momentum builds for creation of 'moon villages'

Mars Rover Opportunity Busy Through Depth of Winter

India to Cooperate With France on Next Mission to Mars

Opportunity rock abrasion tool conducts two rock grinds

Curiosity gets a good taste of scooped, sieved sand

Voyager Mission Celebrates 30 Years Since Uranus

Arab nations eye China, domestic market to revive tourism

2016 Goals Vital to Commercial Crew Success

Space: The here-and-now frontier

China aims for the Moon with new rockets

China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon

Chinese Long March 3B to launch Belintersat-1 telco sat for Belarus

China Plans More Than 20 Space Launches in 2016

Russian Cosmonauts to Attach Thermal Insulation to ISS

Astronaut Scott Kelly plays ping pong with water

Japanese astronaut learned Russian to link two nations

NASA, Texas Instruments Launch mISSion imaginaTIon

70th consecutive successful launch for Ariane 5

AMOS-6 Scheduled for May 2016 Launch by Space-X

Arianespace's year-opening Ariane 5 mission is approved for launch

Ariane 5 is readied for an Arianespace leading customer Intelsat

Astronomers discover largest solar system

Lonely Planet Finds a Mum a Trillion Km Away

Follow A Live Planet Hunt

Lab discovery gives glimpse of conditions found on other planets

Energy harvesting via smart materials

A new quantum approach to big data

Apple quietly working on virtual reality: report

Acoustic tweezers provide much needed pluck for 3-D bioprinting

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.