A Global Perspective on the Microbial Abundance and Activity in the Deep Subsurface

  • T. C. Onstott
  • T. J. Phelps
  • T. Kieft
  • F. S. Colwell
  • D. L. Balkwill
  • J. K. Fredrickson
  • F. J. Brockman
Part of the Cellular Origin and Life in Extreme Habitats book series (COLE, volume 1)


Reports that microorganisms and even microbial communities exist at great depths below the continental surface and below the sea floor have steadily increased in the past several years. The best evidence for the presence and diversity of microorganisms at hundreds to thousands of meters below the land surface (mbls.) lies with cores taken using tracers to detect contamination and processed by aseptic methods (Griffin et al., 1997). Other sources of information on the subterranean biosphere include ground water samples and microbial investigations of recently excavated mine faces. This review compares results from these studies with those of the marine subsurface in order to place constraints on the global subsurface biomass and rate of biogeochemical cycling.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. C. Onstott
    • 1
  • T. J. Phelps
    • 2
  • T. Kieft
    • 3
  • F. S. Colwell
    • 4
  • D. L. Balkwill
    • 5
  • J. K. Fredrickson
    • 6
  • F. J. Brockman
    • 6
  1. 1.Dept. of GeosciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  3. 3.Dept. of BiologyNew Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologySocorroUSA
  4. 4.Biotechnologies DepartmentIdaho National Engineering and Environmental LaboratoryIdaho FallsUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  6. 6.Battelle Pacific Northwest LaboratoriesRichlandUSA

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