These May Be the Deepest Traces of Life on Earth
A hidden ecosystem seems to lurk six miles below the Mariana Trench, offering clues for finding life across the solar system.
On Earth circa four billion years ago, life was hard. Frequent asteroid strikes turned parts of the planet into molten rock. Food and livable spaces were few and far between. What was a microbe to do to survive?
Some very early life could have made it by staying deep—living as far as six miles below the seafloor.
That’s the implication from a new study that found signs of microbes alive today below the deepest place on Earth, the vast underwater canyon called the Mariana Trench. (Also see pictures that reveal one of the last unexplored places on Earth near the Mariana Trench.)
The trench is part of a subduction zone, where the Pacific tectonic plate slips beneath the Philippine Sea plate. The