Scientists find active life forms at Earth’s deepest spot
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
Director James Cameron made the first solo trip to the bottom of the ocean last year. ABACAPRESS photoScientists said March 17 they had discovered an unexpectedly large and active community of single-cell organisms living on the Pacific sea floor at the deepest site on Earth. The “surprisingly active” community of microbes exists about 11 kilometers below sea level in the Mariana Trench, one of the world’s most inaccessible places, some 200 miles southwest of the Pacific island of Guam.
Surprisingly, researchers found the trench housed almost 10 times more bacteria than a nearby six-kilometer deep site, living on organic waste from dead sea animals, algae and other microbes that settle on the ocean floor.
Many scientists had thought that the deeper the floor below sea level, the more deprived it would be of food, which has to float all the way from the oxygen-rich surface to the bottom of the ocean.
In fact, the team found the Mariana Trench was unexpectedly rich in organic matter.
“Their analysis document that a highly active bacteria community exists in the sediment of the trench, even though the environment is under extreme pressure almost 1,100 times higher than at sea level,” said a press statement.
Director made first trip
Mariana Trench made headlines a year ago when Hollywood director James Cameron made history’s first solo trip by submarine to the bottom. He described a “desolate” and “alien” environment.
Because of its extreme depth, the Mariana Trench is cloaked in perpetual darkness with temperatures just a few degrees above freezing. The water pressure at the bottom is a crushing eight tons per square inch about a thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level.
Before Cameron, the trench had been visited only once before, and briefly, by a two-man crew in 1960.
Mariana Trench is a crescent-shaped scar in the Earth’s crust.