Study identifies massive biosphere underground

Dec 11, 2018, 7:11 AM EST
(Source: Brian Boucheron/flickr)
(Source: Brian Boucheron/flickr)

There’s a mysterious, massive ecosystem, twice the size of that in our oceans, and buzzing with billions of micro-organisms beneath our feet. This subterranean biosphere has been documented by researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory, who have relentlessly spent ten years quantifying the mostly microbial life underground.

The quantification of this biosphere could be instrumental in understanding carbon on the Earth, as life forms have a profound interaction with carbon systems, notes the BBC. The development also means that the possibility of life somewhere else in the Solar System isn’t a far-fetched imagination, as subsurface life in the absence of sunlight can still thrive drawing energy from the rocks deep underground.

With the findings, also emerge tantalizing questions, such as whether life expands from top to bottom or from depths to the surface, how’s the relationship between microbes and chemical processes and whether this has clues about the Earth’s and life’s co-evolution, writes The Guardian.