Astrobiologists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have provided new information about microbial communities below the ocean floor on the flanks of mid-ocean ridges. The team drilled into 3.5 million year-old basalt near the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of Washington state. In the samples they collected, they discovered clear signs of an active microbial ecosystem.
Studying how life survives in subsurface environments below Earth’s ocean can provide important insights into life’s ability to adapt to harsh conditions. This information is essential for determining the potential for life as we know it on other worlds in our solar system, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa. The study was published in the journal Science .