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Expedition seeks life beneath the sea floor

Posted on Saturday, 10 September, 2016 | Comment icon 7 comments

The Chikyu will be drilling 0.75 miles below the bottom of the sea. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Gleam
Scientists are set to embark on an ambitious mission to find out what is living beneath the ocean floor.
Beginning on September 12th, the expedition, which is set to last 60 days, will utilise the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu to dig deep down beneath the Nankai Trough - an area of the ocean situated around 60 miles off the coast of Japan which descends 2.9 miles below the surface.

The team will aim to drill 0.75 miles in to the sea floor to determine how far down life forms are capable of surviving before the hot, challenging conditions become too much for them.

"We may discover some unknown life forms that can survive or adapt to the extremely challenging deep and hot sedimentary environment," said the expedition's co-chief scientist Fumio Inagaki.

"The nature and extent of the deep sub-seafloor biosphere is still largely unknown."
Retrieving samples from below the bottom of the sea however is no easy task.

"This expedition is as complex as a mission to outer space might be," said researcher Kai-Uwe Hinrichs who authored the scientific proposal on which the whole mission is based.

"It requires the technology to 'land' the coring bit on the right spot in over 4-kilometer-deep water, drill through ancient ocean sediments to collect samples far below the ocean floor, bring them back onboard intact, then transport them by helicopter to the super-clean geomicrobiology laboratory."

"This expedition is fraught with complexity, danger and vast opportunity for discovery."

Source: Live Science | Comments (7)

Tags: Ocean, Sea, Life

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by spud the mackem on 9 September, 2016, 18:34
I hope that the Morlocks are aware that we are coming
Comment icon #2 Posted by freetoroam on 9 September, 2016, 19:10
Lets hope the Japanese have not already killed  off what might be down there.. I wonder if this test will be looking to see how far the radiation has reached: From 2012: Unlike some other compounds, radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor.   Drilling? not sure the Morlocks are going to take too kindly to that. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Aftermath on 9 September, 2016, 20:44
  No - won't that flood their tunnels?  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Parsec on 10 September, 2016, 14:58
Aaaand no chance of contamination at all!  They could just say they want to strike a preemptive blow to the aliens through the pacific rim,  we wouldn't mind.    Anyway,  that's really cool and we should have more missions like that!  But what if that's not a representative area where to dig? 
Comment icon #5 Posted by spud the mackem on 10 September, 2016, 19:46
If an Alien the size of an ant , landed his ship on a manure heap, would he think that this planet was crap
Comment icon #6 Posted by Nnicolette on 10 September, 2016, 20:52
If an alien the size of an ant made it to our planet surely he was aware of more than the manure heap.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Not Your Huckleberry on 11 September, 2016, 15:16
Not sure if Morlock...or Boris Johnson.   

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