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This interactive project was designed to help raise awareness among school kids (and life-long learners!) about the wonders of ‘microbes’ (i.e. tiny organisms like bacteria that can only be seen with a microscope) living in the 'deep biosphere' of the Earth.

What is the 'Deep Biosphere'?

In the ocean, this phrase refers to all of the places buried underneath the seafloor, including muddy and sandy sediments, the rocky oceanic crust, and all of the water circulating in and out of hydrothermal vents (which are like hot springs on the seafloor).  We know that tiny little life forms exist down there, but we don't know much about who they are and what they are doing (yet!).  We really want to find out, because although the microbes are tiny individually, combined all together we think they make up a huge fraction of life on Earth.  And considering that they live in such an extreme* environment, if we learn more about how the microbes make a living there, we might figure out how life could exist in other strange places like other planets.

* to us humans it is extreme, but to the microbes it is very normal!  In fact considering how big these environments are in comparison to the size of land that humans live on, maybe it is more appropriate to call the 'deep biosphere 'normal' and our way of living 'extreme'.

If you would like to learn more about the deep biosphere, check out this site.

Project details:

  • check out the deep biosphere microbes that are up for adoption.  By the way, adoption is totally free and open to everyone - school classes, summer programs, your grandmother, the bus driver, you!
  • download the Adoption Kit which has more detailed information about the project and a list of some items you might need.
  • send us an email with your contact information to register for adoption and to let us know that you want to take part in the project (don't worry - we promise not to give your information to anyone else!)
  • visit the website every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the course of project (starts July 7 2010, ends September 3 2010) to learn about the weekly activities, watch awesome new videos, read our hilarious blogs about life in the deep biosphere, and giggle at our daily shenanigans while sailing the high seas onboard the Joides Resolution Expedition 327.
  • every Thursday, send us your creative projects.  Regular participants will be entered into a raffle to win one of our ridiculously awesome prizes!
  • impress your friends and strangers with your amazing new knowledge about microbes, the deep biosphere, ocean drilling, and marine science!

Who's behind all of this?

This education and outreach project is the brainchild of some scientists that are cruising the ocean this summer on the ocean drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution for Expedition 327 of the Integrated Ocean Drilling ProgramAndy Fisher promoted the idea, Beth Orcutt made it happen, Sharon Cooper gave it support, and a host of others have contributed.