Articles | Volume 19
Sci. Dril., 19, 43–53, 2015
Sci. Dril., 19, 43–53, 2015

Workshop white paper 29 May 2015

Workshop white paper | 29 May 2015

Workshop to develop deep-life continental scientific drilling projects

T. L. Kieft1, T. C. Onstott2, L. Ahonen3, V. Aloisi4, F. S. Colwell5, B. Engelen6, S. Fendrihan7, E. Gaidos8, U. Harms9, I. Head10, J. Kallmeyer11, B. Kiel Reese12, L.-H. Lin13, P. E. Long14, D. P. Moser16, H. Mills15, P. Sar17, D. Schulze-Makuch18, H. Stan-Lotter19, D. Wagner11, P.-L. Wang20, F. Westall21, and M. J. Wilkins22 T. L. Kieft et al.
  • 1Department of Biology, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM 87801, USA
  • 2Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
  • 3Geological Survey of Finland, P.O. Box 96, 02151 Espoo, Finland
  • 4Laboratoire d'Océanographie Dynamique et de Climatologie, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Place Jussieu 4, Case 100, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France
  • 5College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 6Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
  • 7Romanian Bioresources Centre, Sector 6, Bucharest, Romania
  • 8Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, University of Hawaii at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
  • 9International Scientific Drilling Program, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg C-425, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 10Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE17RU, UK
  • 11Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg C-425, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 12Department of Life Sciences, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5800, Corpus Christi, TX 78412-5800, USA
  • 13Department of Geosciences National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
  • 14Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
  • 15Division of Natural Sciences, School of Science and Computer Engineering, University of Houston Clear Lake, Houston, TX 77058, USA
  • 16Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 755 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
  • 17Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur 721 302, India
  • 18Technical University Berlin, Berlin, Germany, and Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
  • 19Division of Molecular Biology, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
  • 20Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
  • 21Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire, UPR CNRS 4301, rue Charles Sadron, 45071 Orléans Cedex 2, France
  • 22School of Earth Sciences and Department of Microbiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

Abstract. The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) has long espoused studies of deep subsurface life, and has targeted fundamental questions regarding subsurface life, including the following: "(1) What is the extent and diversity of deep microbial life and what are the factors limiting it? (2) What are the types of metabolism/carbon/energy sources and the rates of subsurface activity? (3) How is deep microbial life adapted to subsurface conditions? (4) How do subsurface microbial communities affect energy resources? And (5) how does the deep biosphere interact with the geosphere and atmosphere?" (Horsfield et al., 2014) Many ICDP-sponsored drilling projects have included a deep-life component; however, to date, not one project has been driven by deep-life goals, in part because geomicrobiologists have been slow to initiate deep biosphere-driven ICDP projects. Therefore, the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) recently partnered with the ICDP to sponsor a workshop with the specific aim of gathering potential proponents for deep-life-driven ICDP projects and ideas for candidate drilling sites. Twenty-two participants from nine countries proposed projects and sites that included compressional and extensional tectonic environments, evaporites, hydrocarbon-rich shales, flood basalts, Precambrian shield rocks, subglacial and subpermafrost environments, active volcano–tectonic systems, megafan deltas, and serpentinizing ultramafic environments. The criteria and requirements for successful ICDP applications were presented. Deep-life-specific technical requirements were discussed and it was concluded that, while these procedures require adequate planning, they are entirely compatible with the sampling needs of other disciplines. As a result of this workshop, one drilling workshop proposal on the Basin and Range Physiographic Province (BRPP) has been submitted to the ICDP, and several other drilling project proponents plan to submit proposals for ICDP-sponsored drilling workshops in 2016.