Sub-seafloor Sediments: An Extreme but Globally Significant Prokaryotic Habitat (Taxonomy, Diversity, Ecology)

The Marine Biosphere in Deep Sediments

Oceans cover about 70% of the Earth’s surface and beneath these there are normally sediments accumulated from the 5–10 billion tons of particulate matter that are constantly sinking within them. Hence, these sediments are very extensive and can be up to 10 km thick, although average depths are about 500 m. They are a major global reservoir for compounds such as organic carbon, nitrogen, iron, and sulfur which impacts element cycles, climate, and the redox state of the Earth on geological timescales. The average ocean depth above these sediments is about 3,800 m, which exerts a pressure of 38 MPa. Hence, ocean sediments are characteristically high-pressure environments. Surface sediments are cold, around 2°C, although temperatures do gradually increase with depth (∼30°C/km). But so does pressure, which squeezes the sediment, increasing compaction and reducing porosity. These high-pressure conditions and initially low temperatures, together with...


Deep Sediment Subsurface Sediment Deep Biosphere Miscellaneous Crenarchaeotic Group Subseafloor Sediment 


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© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth and Ocean SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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