Subsurface Microbial Communities in Volcanic Basement Along an Ancient Hotspot Seamount Trail Project uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5652-7319-6596-2185-CC


  • One of the objectives of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 330, Louisville Seamount Trail, was to sample and learn about the subsurface biosphere in the Louisville Seamount Chain (LSC). This seamount chain consists of submerged, inactive volcanoes formed at the Louisville hotspot, one of three primary hotspots in the Pacific Ocean. The drilled seamounts range in age from 65 to 77 Ma and basement composition at all three consists of alternating layers of massive lava flows and basaltic breccia. Diverse rock lithologies were recovered from the subsurface seamount environment along the LSC, all of which are potential habitats for microbial colonization. We focus here on analysis of samples collected from Sites U1372, U1374 and U1376 that were recovered deeper than the interface between sedimentary rock and volcanic basement rock. The purpose of this selection is to examine life specifically in deeply buried volcanic basement rocks. The goal of the work is to answer the following questions: (1) What is the diversity of the resident microbes in the subsurface of the LSC? (2) Do the different seamounts host different communities, and are there systematic changes with age? (3) Does the microbial community composition change with depth and/or lithology?

date/time interval

  • January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2013