is to explore life beneath the seafloor and make transformative
discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inspire
people of all ages and origins.
WHY a deep subseafloor biosphere STC? In
a provocative 1992 essay, Thomas Gold postulated the existence
of a "deep, hot biosphere", supported by geological
energy sources. Whitman et al.,  expanded this concept,
collating available data on aquatic, soil, and subseafloor
microbes, and concluded that the majority of biomass on Earth
may be harbored below the surface of the Earth. The ramifications
of a massive buried biosphere of "intraterrestrial microbes"
are significant, leading to paradigm shifts in our thinking
in the biosciences and geosciences [Edwards et al. 2005, Jorgensen
& D'Hondt 2006]. Owing to the vast size of the subseafloor
reservoir in the global Earth system, most intraterrestrial
microbes reside below the bottom of the OCEANS, in
sediments and rock. The potential for the oceanic deep biosphere
to influence global biogeochemical processes scales with
the size of the subseafloor as a habitat.
WHY now? Despite the potentially profound
implications for the existence of a deep biosphere, existing
data are skewed toward accessibility and do not permit significant
refinement of the global census of subseafloor biomass [Whitman
et al. 1998]. Little information exists about the identity
of these microbial communities or the abiotic and biotic processes
within this biosphere—information that is critical to
link intraterrestrial microbes with global processes and to
understand the significance of subseafloor biomes in the development
and evolution of life. These shortcomings, in their essence,
reduce to a lack of prior integration and coordination within
this new field; C-DEBI allows transformative advancement through
collaboration, coordination, and support, enabled by recent
We are at a crossroad in our quest to resolve the major questions
in deep subseafloor biosphere research. Three new US-led
IODP projects for deep subseafloor biosphere research are
poised for drilling before 2013, headed by our executive
committee members and involving many of our science participants.
These projects developed independently, with specific sites
and scientific objectives. C-DEBI will seize a unique opportunity
to bundle these diverse projects, to accomplish an integrated,
global scientific mission.
Our first major science
objective is to coordinate, integrate, support, and extend
the science associated with these three projects,
establishing a new model for conducting internationally coordinated
collaborative research in the deep subseafloor biosphere.
C-DEBI will establish the technological, collaborative, and
distributed infrastructure that is needed to effectively plan,
execute, and maximize returns for deep subseafloor biosphere
research—now and into the future.
Our second major science objective is to foster and
educate an interdisciplinary community of researchers in deep
subseafloor biosphere research, with a focus on students
and junior researchers. C-DEBI will nurture new projects,
through collaboration and networking between new
deep subseafloor biosphere enthusiasts and researchers with
experience in the logistical and technological "how's"
for mounting and executing an IODP project—thereby ensuring
precision use of scarce resources and well-informed project
development for answering critical global science questions.
Our education and diversity objectives are to educate,
inform, and translate knowledge of the deep subseafloor biosphere
via a coordinated program across primary, secondary, and higher
education programs, and for C-DEBI scientific participants
to learn how to be more effective in communicating scientific
and technical results to a broader audience.
> More about our research
> More about our education