Science 2 min read

Scientists Discover Massive Ecosystem Beneath Earth's Surface

Viacheslav Lopatin /

Viacheslav Lopatin /

An international team of researchers just revealed the existence of a massive ecosystem hiding a few kilometers beneath the surface of our planet.

Researchers from the Deep Carbon Observatory report that the massive ecosystem contains twice as many lifeforms as all the world’s oceans combined. The discovery sheds light on the subterranean biosphere of 15 to 23 billion tons of micro-organisms beneath the Earth’s surface.

“It’s like finding a whole new reservoir of life on Earth. We are discovering new types of life all the time. So much of life is within the Earth rather than on top of it,” Karen Lloyd, a scientist from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, said.

The study involved the participation of 1,200 scientists from across the world in different disciplines. The “deep life” study took ten years to accomplish and was presented yesterday at the American Geophysical Union‘s annual meeting.

“Ten years ago, we had sampled only a few sites – the kinds of places we’d expect to find life. Now, thanks to ultra-deep sampling, we know we can find them pretty much everywhere,” Lloyd went on to say.

Read More: Mysterious Ecosystem Exposed After Antarctica’s Giant Iceberg Breaks Free

The Massive Ecosystem

The data gathered estimates that the deep biosphere has a volume of 2-2.3 billion cubic kilometers. The system is also reportedly rich in countless lifeforms.

The team based these findings on microbes extracted from sediment samples at a depth of 2.3 kilometers under the seafloor. The team also took some samples from beneath the drilled surfaces of mines and boreholes.

The research team further believes that this discovery could help answer many questions about the beginning of life on Earth.

“Our studies of deep biosphere microbes have produced much new knowledge, but also a realization and far greater appreciation of how much we have yet to learn about subsurface life,” Rick Colwell, a microbial ecologist from Oregon State University, said.

“Scientists do not yet know all the ways in which deep subsurface life affects surface life and vice versa. And, for now, we can only marvel at the nature of the metabolisms that allow life to survive under the extremely impoverished and forbidding conditions for life in deep Earth.”

Do you believe that there is more to this massive ecosystem discovered beneath the surface of our planet?

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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