Life in Earth’s interior as productive as in some ocean waters

Microorganisms in aquifers deep below the earth’s surface produce similar amounts of biomass as those in some marine waters. Applying a unique, ultra-sensitive measurement method using radioactive carbon, they were able to demonstrate for the first time that these biotic communities in absolute darkness do not depend on sunlight. Instead, they can obtain energy autonomously from rock oxidation or from compounds transported into the deep.Microorganisms in aquifers deep below the earth’s surface produce similar amounts of biomass as those in some marine waters. Applying a unique, ultra-sensitive measurement method using radioactive carbon, they were able to demonstrate for the first time that these biotic communities in absolute darkness do not depend on sunlight. Instead, they can obtain energy autonomously from rock oxidation or from compounds transported into the deep.

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