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The oceanic basaltic crust is the largest aquifer on Earth and has the potential to harbor substantial subsurface microbial ecosystems, which hitherto remains largely uncharacterized and is analogous to extraterrestrial subsurface habitats. Within the sediment-buried 3.5 Myr old basaltic crust of the eastern Juan de Fuca Ridge flank, the circulating basement fluids have moderate temperature (∼65 °C) and low to undetectable dissolved oxygen and nitrate concentrations. Sulfate, present in high concentrations, is therefore expected to serve as the major electron acceptor in this subsurface environment. This study focused on the availability and potential sources of two important electron donors, methane (CH4) and hydrogen (H2), for the subseafloor biosphere. High integrity basement fluids were collected via fluid delivery lines associated with Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Circulation Obviation Retrofit Kits (CORKs) that extend from basement depths to outlet ports at the seafloor. Two new CORKs installed during IODP 327 in 2010, 1362A and 1362B, were sampled in 2011 and 2013. The two CORKs are superior than earlier style CORKs in that they are equipped with coated casing and polytetrafluoroethylene fluid delivery lines, reducing the interaction between casing materials with the environment. Additional samples were collected from an earlier style CORK at Borehole 1301A. The basement fluids are enriched in H2 (0.05–1.8 μmol/kg), suggesting that the ocean basaltic aquifer can support H2-driven metabolism. The basement fluids also contain significant amount of CH4 (5–32 μmol/kg), revealing CH4 as an available substrate for subseafloor basaltic habitats. The δ 13C values of CH4 from the three boreholes ranged from −22.5 to −58‰, while the δ2H values ranged from −316 to 57‰. The isotopic compositions of CH4 and the molecular compositions of hydrocarbons suggest that CH4 in the basement fluids is of both biogenic and abiotic origins, varying among sites and sampling times. The δ2H values of CH4 in CORK 1301A fluid samples are much more positive than found in all other marine environments investigated to date and are best explained by the partial microbial oxidation of biogenic CH4. In conclusion, this study by C-DEBI Researcher Lin et al. shows that CH4 and H2 are persistently available to fuel the deep biosphere and that CH4 is both produced and potentially consumed by microorganisms in the oceanic basement.
Education & Outreach
A new video overview of C-DEBI was produced by the USC Dornsife Communication Department to assist with program development at the University of Southern California. Check out the full video or science-only version.
Looking for labs interested in hosting 1-2 REU student(s), Summer 2015
- Eight to ten week placement for Nationally selected Native American students
- Prefer placement of two students in the same lab or at the same university
- Project and project funding would need to be supplied by the hosting lab
- Travel and housing support and stipend would be paid by the STC Tribal Initiate grant through STC CMOP (Center for Coastal Margins Observation & Prediction)
Ocean Leadership: Ocean 180 Video Challenge
Submissions for the 2015 Ocean 180 Video Challenge will be accepted from October 1-December 1, 2014.
Ocean Leadership: Share Your Ocean Story with the BBC
Ocean Leadership has built a website to help BBC solicit ideas/content/contacts for their upcoming seven-part series follow-up to Blue Planet entitled Ocean: New Frontiers.
MBL: 2015 Visiting Research Award Program
THE MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY (MBL), an international center of excellence for biological research, and education, and an affiliate of the University of Chicago, is accepting applications for its 2015 Research Awards Program. Each year, this program supports approximately 20 to 30 scientists from other institutions who come to the MBL for six or more weeks in the summer to conduct independent research. These awards support a wide array of biological research, with particular focus on areas including marine biology, regenerative biology, cell biology, developmental biology, microbiology, and neuroscience. Application Deadline: December 1, 2014.
Simons Foundation: Simons Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution Awards
The deadline for receipt of letters of intent (LOI) is October 15, 2014, 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
NSF: Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (OCE-PRF)
Full proposal target date: December 8, 2014.
NSF: Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Deadlines: Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Materials Research – October 29, 2014; Mathematical Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy – October 30, 2014; Social Sciences, Psychology, STEM Education and Learning – November 03, 2014; Life Sciences, Geosciences – November 04, 2014.
National Academies Research Associateships for Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
There are four annual review cycles and the next closes November 1.
IODP-USSSP: Proposals for Pre-Drilling Activities and Workshops
The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) accepts proposals on a rolling basis for pre-drilling activities and semi-annually for workshops, next submission deadline November 15, 2014, related to the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).
New to the ocean drilling programs? Wondering how to request samples or data? Or sail on an expedition? If so, attend the “IODP Primer: An Introduction to Ocean Drilling Programs.” At this short course, program specialists will discuss the history of scientific ocean drilling, what data are available in the archives, what makes a strong application to sail, how to participate in expedition planning, and more. The course will be held the afternoon before the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco (December 14, 1-5pm). Registration is free, but space is limited. To register, please visit: http://usssp-iodp.org/workshop/iodp-primer-2014/
A postdoctoral research position in the area of protein bioinformatics is available to examine the structural determinants of electron transfer, ion-coupled electron transfer, and reversibility in oxidoreductase enzymes. The successful candidate will join a dynamic group of multidisciplinary and collaborative scientists that form the Department of Energy Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis (BETCy) Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) centered at Montana State University. The position will combine cutting edge informatics and network based approaches to characterize variations in oxidoreductase enzymes at the primary, tertiary, and quaternary levels for use in identifying features that govern enzyme functionality, substrate preference, and directionality. Target enzymes include those involved in the bifurcation of electrons, ion-coupled electron transfer, energy conservation, and ATP-coupled electron transfer. The multidisciplinary research will require strong communication skills enabling close collaboration with expert BETCy scientists involved in biochemical and genetic characterization of these proteins and complexes (e.g. Mike Adams, U of Georgia; Paul King, National Renewable Energy Lab; Pin-Ching Maness, National Renewable Energy Lab; Lance Seefeldt, Utah State University). For more information, contact Eric Boyd (email@example.com) or visit the BETCy EFRC at http://eu.montana.edu/betcy-efrc/opportunities.htm. Screening of applications will begin October 1, 2014 and will continue until position is filled.
WHOI,Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry: Tenure-Track and Tenured Scientific Staff
Review of applications will begin November 1, 2014.
University of South Florida, College of Marine Science: Tenure-Track, Biological Oceanography – Assistant, Associate, or Professor Level
Review of applications will begin after November 1, 2014.
JAMSTEC: Scientist or Technical Scientist, Borehole Informatics Group
Application Deadline: October 20, 2014.
Georgia Tech, Biology Department: Postdoc in Marine Microbial Genomics
This position is available immediately, although there is flexibility in the start date.
University of Oldenburg Institute for Chemistry of the Marine Environment: PhD Graduate Student
Review of applications will begin August 1st, 2014; applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Expected appointment is fall 2014. Questions may be directed to Dr. Bert Engelen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUBEM, University of Brest (UBO), France: 12-month Postdoctoral Position
Interested candidates are encouraged to send a curriculum vitae, a cover letter outlining previous experience and support letters from 2 colleagues with first-hand knowledge of their work experience as soon as possible by e-mail to Gaëtan Burgaud (email@example.com). See the flyer for more information.
Texas A&M, College of Geosciences: 4 Faculty Positions
The search committee will commence review of applications starting 1 May and will continue until the positions are filled.
Don’t forget to email me with any items you’d like to share in future newsletters! You are what makes our deep biosphere community!