Integration of Deep Biosphere Research into the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program

Startdate: 27 September, 2009
Enddate: 29 September, 2009

Status: held

An international workshop on the Integration of Deep Biosphere Research into the International Continental Scientific  Drilling Program (ICDP) was held on 27–29 September 2009 in Potsdam. It was organized by the Helmholtz Centre  Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and the University of Potsdam (Germany). Financial support  was provided by ICDP. This workshop brought together the expertise of thirty-three microbiologists, biogeochemists,  and geologists from seven countries (Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, U.K., U.S.A.). Over the last two  decades, microbiological and biogeochemical investigations have demonstrated the occurrence of microbial life widely disseminated within the deep subsurface of the Earth (Fredrickson and Onstott, 1996; Parkes et al., 2000; Pedersen, 2000; Sherwood Lollar et al., 2006).
Considering the large subsurface pore space available as a life habitat, it has been estimated that the biomass of the so-called deep biosphere might be equal to or even larger than that of the surface biosphere (Whitman et al., 1998).
Thus, the deep biosphere must play a fundamental role in global biogeochemical cycles over short and long time scales. Its huge size, as well as the largely unexplored biogeochemical processes driving the deep biosphere, makes  the investigation of the extent and dynamics of subsurface microbial ecosystems an intriguing and relatively new topic in today’s geoscience research. Our knowledge of the deep biosphere is still fragmentary especially in terrestrial environments. While geobiological research is already an integral part in many Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) sampling missions (Lipp et al., 2008; Roussel et al., 2008; Zink et al., 2003), only a few recent projects within the ICDP have had a geobiological component (Colwell et al., 2005; Gohn et al., 2008; Mangelsdorf et al., 2005). In the recently published book Continental Scientific Drilling – A Decade of Progress and Challenges for the Future, Horsfield et al. (2007) argued that exploration of the “GeoBiosphere” should be an integrated component of the activities of ICDP to correct this imbalance.

Thus, the aim of the workshop was to integrate deep biosphere research into ICDP by

  1. defining scientific questions and targets for future drilling projects in terrestrial environments and
  2. addressing the technical, administrative and logistical prerequisites for these investigations.

According to these goals the workshop was segmented into two parts.

Related Publications

Mangelsdorf, Kai, Kallmeyer, Jens (2009). "Integration of Deep Biosphere Research into the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program" Scientific Drilling 10