Deep Sea Mining Zone Hosts CO2-Consuming Bacteria

Scientists have discovered that bacteria in the deepest parts of the seafloor are absorbing carbon dioxide and could be turning themselves into an additional food source for other deep-sea life. (Image: Heriot-Watt University)
Scientists have discovered that bacteria in the deepest parts of the seafloor are absorbing carbon dioxide and could be turning themselves into an additional food source for other deep-sea life. (Image: Heriot-Watt University)

Scientists have discovered that bacteria in the deepest parts of the seafloor are absorbing carbon dioxide and could be turning themselves into an additional food source for other deep-sea life. Bacteria living 4000m below the ocean surface in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ) are consuming carbon dioxide and turning it into biomass, a new study shows.

Until now, scientists believed the main source of biomass on the seafloor was the organic matter that floated down toward the depths — dead fish, plankton, and other detritus. Prof. Andrew K. Sweetman, from the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said:

The CCFZ is a prime area of interest for future seabed (polymetallic nodule) mining. Sixteen contractors from countries like the UK, Germany, France, and Korea have claimed exploration rights in this region, and have begun conducting surveys to gather baseline data on biodiversity and genetic connectivity across their claim areas.

Dr. Sweetman is calling for the International Seabed Authority to ensure contractors in this area will implement carbon cycling monitoring as well as biodiversity and genetic studies. Sweetman said:

The findings were published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

Provided by: Heriot-Watt University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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