This week I’ll be attending the International Continental Drilling Program workshop on the “Drilling into the Moho in the Ivrea-Verbano Zone” in Baveno, Lago Maggiore.
The location is stunning and the amount of expertise present at the workshop in this area impressive. As pointed out early on during the workshop talks the Ivrea-Verbano Zone is a unique place where the Moho (crust-mantle discontinuity) is very shallow due to the undertrusting of the European plate. This gives the unique opportunity to explore lower crust and mantle type crystalline rocks.
At the workshop I’ll be making the case for including a deep subsurface microbiology component into the early planning stages of the project. The deep subsurface is one of the largest ecosystem on Earth, and the study of its community has the potential to unlock key information regarding biogeochemical cycles, life evolution and its limits. Moreover, endolithic (that is living inside rocks) could be the standard way of life in exoplanets, and studying Earth deep subsurface life has implication for the search of life in the universe.
For more I formation on the project look at the ICDP page. For more information about deep subsurface microbiology read the influential 1992 PNAS paper by Thomas Gold “the deep, hot biosphere” and take a look at the Deep Carbon Observary Deep Life page.