Deep-sea hydrothermal vents: Oases for life in oceans beyond Earth?

Chris German

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, Massachusetts

February 13, 2019
Pacific Forum—11:00 a.m.

Seafloor fluid at hydrothermal vents supports a chemosynthetic ecosystem with microbial metabolisms that rely on energy derived from water-rock geochemical interactions. In certain key cases, as found along slow and ultra-slow spreading ridges, venting gives rise to such chemically reducing environments that hydrogen-rich fluids arise and conditions develop for the spontaneous abiotic synthesis of organic compounds. This realization on Earth gives rise to a new hypothesis that similar conditions for habitability exist on other Ocean Worlds in our outer solar system, where saltwater oceans are in contact with a rocky seafloor.

In this talk, Chris German will review the current state of knowledge for venting in the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean basins and introduce a new 2019 NASA initiative that will seek to harness our nation’s capabilities in ocean exploration to inform future space missions as NASA searches for life beyond Earth.

Next: February 27—Mara Orescanin, Naval Postgraduate School


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