BioGeology/BioGeología

10Aug11

 

Rock-life would find us, surface dwellers, scritching and padding along the crust of the earth, ripping and digging and moving stuff around, especially frenetic. I made this animation thinking about macro and micro worlds, about the time that we take up and the time that other moving things observe. You can see it as part of the Outsound Festival in Indianapolis, should you be in that geographic locus, starting tomorrow.

(I can’t embed it with HD for some reason. To see a better quality, go here…)

From Science Frontiers:

It is accepted that every cubic centimeter of the topsoil beneath our feet seethes with thousands of microorganisms. It is less well known that life’s domain extends down much further. The hard rocks and strata of earth’s crust — seemingly sterile and inert — are continuously being transformed by bacteria and other life forms. […] …it may well be that life from “inner space” has been and will be more important to humankind than life from “outer space.”

A five-year survey of microbial life conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) found that bacteria were everywhere — even 3 kilo meters deep in a Virginia borehole. F. Wobber, the DOE manager of the project underscored the mystery and probable importance of “biogeology”:

“Besides asking how subsurface bacteria affect geology, he wonders how geologic processes could have carried living things so deep into the planet. ‘When you find these organisms at great depths,’ he says, ‘you have to ask: Where did they come from?’ Microbes from the soil could easily infiltrate shallow aquifers…but in very deep sediments, like those in the Texaco well, the microbes may have been entombed when the rock was first deposited, tens or hundreds of millions of years ago. If so, the deep Earth might be a den of survivors, toughened by millenia of evolution in their harsh environment. Attacking rock might be just one of their feats.

(Appenzeller, Tim; “Deep-Living Microbes Mount a Relentless Attack on Rock,” Science, 258:222. 1992.)

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