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There is an abundance of life beneath the earth's surface.
Scientists studying a sample of the ocean crust from the Pacific Northwest have found an extensive microbial ecosystem living within it.
Rather than surviving from sunlight and the byproducts of photosynthesis, the underwater life forms are chemosynthetic, which means they get their energy from chemical reactions between rocks and ocean water.
Geomicrobiologist Mark Lever from Aarhuis University in Denmark, part of a research team that included the University of North Carolina, said: “We know that Earth’s oceanic crust accounts for 60 percent of Earth’s surface, and on average is four miles thick.”
If the sample of basalt rocks is indicative of the rest of the ocean crust, Lever says, it could be that “the largest ecosystem on Earth, by volume, is supported by chemosynthesis.”
Scientists are calling it the dark biosphere, because no light or oxygen makes it down there, yet there are still forms of life.
However, there are some parts of the ocean’s crust with oxygen based life, and other parts may have run out of the minerals necessary to sustain the microbial life that was found in the study samples.