Under the sea there is a whole ocean

Scientists have found that under the sea is a whole underground ocean, inhabited by microorganisms. According to preliminary data, and its maximum depth is five kilometers. An international team of scientists, armed with a natural laboratory CORK, began to explore this mysterious and very ancient biosphere.

Recently, an international team of scientists has made a report on the first experiments with deep technology needed for long-term scientific observations of microbial life under the sea. These studies were led by experts from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. For the first time an attempt was made to study the vital activity of bacteria in ih habitats, without taking them to the surface. And, apparently, it went quite well.

Those who believe that life in the ocean can not be below the bottom of it, is deeply mistaken. Research in the past decade have shown that in the depths of the oceanic crust, which, as we know, consists of sedimentary rocks lying on a basalt platform, there is a very mysterious ecosystem consisting of various microorganisms. Back in 2005, a team of scientists from the UK Cardiff University, led by John Parkes found that under the surface of the seabed and the ocean there is an entire biosphere.

Marine scientists took samples of sedimentary rocks from different places the Atlantic, which were located at 800 meters below the ocean floor. Imagine their surprise when they found out millions of different bacteria. And created the feeling that time has stopped for them — rock age was estimated to be 3.8 billion years old, and lived in the stone labyrinths of microorganisms were no different from those that are fossilized in these sediments.

But that's not all. Investigating the biochemical composition of some bacterial cells, they found that their age is not too small — it has thousands years. And despite the fact that the same bacteria that live on the sea floor, would have lived on the strength of day! It turns out that live under the ocean is very good for health.

Even then, the study authors suggest that the bacterial biosphere, located under the sea, is very high and the number of individuals comprising it, surpasses all similar biosphere sea water and land. But soon biologists expect another surprise. Two years later, the same group Parkes discovered microorganisms in the rock at a depth of 1626 meters below the ocean floor. These organisms lived in very extreme conditions — high pressure (several thousand atmospheres) and at a temperature above 1o0 ° Celsius. That is, in almost boiling water.

Conducting DNA analysis, the researchers found that the bacteria, extreme belong to well-known genera Thermococcus and Pyrococcus,
whose representatives live on the surface of the Earth in hot springs. Representatives of the first type are usually obtain energy by oxidizing hydrogen sulfide, and the second — decomposing methane. That is food for them quite deep enough — these two gases are fairly common in the lower crust.

After analyzing the results of their research, Parkes and his colleagues came to the conclusion that, apparently, the bacterial biosphere can drop down to five kilometers from the sea floor. However, this immediately suggests that approximately the same depth can be omitted, and ocean water, because without them, the bacteria will not be able to survive. It turns out that under the sea there is a whole ocean, the depth of which can be up to five kilometers.

Of course, this "underground" ocean does not look like the one described by the famous writer Jules Verne's novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Apparently, it is not a one-piece swimming pool filled with water, and is a system of narrow passages and tanks filled with sea water. However, its numbers this subokeane very large — estimated hydrologists, the volume of water flowing under the sea is 110-190 million km3. This, of course, less than in the "naddonnoy" part of the World Ocean (1,338,000,000 km3), but still far more than the entire supply of fresh water on our planet (100 — 150 million km3).

Now scientists are trying to develop techniques for the study of the mysterious ocean, located under the sea and its inhabitants. As experience shows, the usual drill is little to give, as well, as it did not try to seal it still leaks water situated above the sea floor, which kills microorganisms (its chemical composition differs from the underground) and hinders accurate chemical analysis.

Where are the best results was obtained by using technology CORK (set of modernized equipment, warning circulation) that allow sealed subsurface well and just observe the natural hydrogeological state and microbial ecosystem inside Earth's crust.

These devices are nothing more than a mini laboratory equipped with all possible sensors. This laboratory is loaded into the well as cork being pushed into the bottle. As a result of the penetration of liquids into the drilled holes, and leaking out of it not happening.

International group of scientists just use the station CORK. So, while they work or milliliter of ocean water does not get into the well bore and washout of the natural system, and changes in habitat bacteria was avoided. As a result, the natural laboratory, similar to that used in the experiments allowed scientists to explore hydrogeology, geochemistry and microbiology of the oceanic crust.

The first results indicate that the ocean beneath the sea floor, is inhabited by bacteria, which are used as energy sources dozens of inorganic compounds, such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, SO2, etc. But the photosynthetic microorganisms among them seem not at all. This is not surprising — where do they get enough light to such great depths.

In connection with the proposal of some scientists, for example, Gary Schafer of the University of Copenhagen, the fact that, as a measure to combat global warming, download "excess" carbon dioxide under the ocean floor, have substantially revised. After all, if the inhabitants of an underground ocean is not photosynthetic, so this stuff there, no one can be disposed of (CO2 needed only photosynthetic organisms to others he or useless, or even dangerous).

If the huge amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the waters of an underground ocean, then it is possible that there will be their acidification, which may cause the death of the unique bacterial biosphere. This, in turn, can respond as the inhabitants of the oceans, and land — it is assumed that it is these plucky little recycle most of methane and hydrogen sulfide, which are torn from the Earth to the surface.

If they die, then there will be nobody to save the inhabitants of the surface of these highly toxic gases.

Now scientists want to study more in detail the ocean that exists under the seabed. Although preliminary data, that would make it at least on a superficial impression, take a few decades at least. However, researchers do not lose heart — now in their arsenal has wonderful natural laboratory. However, while they will help to unravel the secrets of the surface layer of the underground tank of sea water. However, it is possible that in the near future there will be automatic stations that can operate at great depths …

Anton Evseev

Source: pravda.ru.

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