Turning Deep Subsurface Science into Child’s Play

The Nankai Trough off the eastern coast of Japan is the result of tectonic shifts in the Earth’s crust, a 1000-meter deep ocean basin carved by the flexing and bending of huge slabs of rock. Nearly 250 meters beneath the seafloor, nestled within compressed sediment, ovoid microorganisms are sputtering along, producing methane that likely ends up in ice-like methane hydrates. When they were discovered in 2003, the microbes were declared a novel species, Methanoculleus submarinus.

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