Beneath your feet, a living planet
June 24, 2024 3:56 PM   Subscribe

"Contrary to long-held assumptions, Earth’s interior is not barren. In fact, a majority of the planet’s microbes, perhaps more than 90 percent, may live deep underground. These intraterrestrial microbes tend to be quite different from their counterparts on the surface. They are ancient and slow, reproducing infrequently and possibly living for millions of years. [...] Subsurface microbes carve vast caverns, concentrate minerals and precious metals and regulate the global cycling of carbon and nutrients. Microbes may even have helped construct the continents, literally laying the groundwork for all other terrestrial life." The Mysterious, Deep-Dwelling Microbes That Sculpt Our Planet, an excerpt from Becoming Earth, by Ferris Jabr.
posted by mittens (13 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I’m disappointed that Tommy Gold’s Deep Hot Biosphere got a nod, his most controversial claim, that microbes are the source of fossil fuels, isn’t addressed
posted by BrashTech at 4:20 PM on June 24

Tommy Gold’s Deep Hot Biosphere

That sounds like title of either a disco funk album, or a porn film.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:38 PM on June 24 [7 favorites]

The most outstanding feature of life’s history is that through 3.5 billion years this has remained, really, a bacterial planet. Most creatures are what they’ve always been: They’re bacteria and they rule the world. And we need to be nice to them.
-Stephen Jay Gould
posted by TedW at 4:41 PM on June 24 [3 favorites]

Wow. Also thanks for the gift link. TFA is a great example of the NYT at its best. Would that their political reporting and punditing could rise to that level.

It's been a long time since I was a life-science major, but I retain memories that in the '80s there was a field of study opening up in endolithic lichens. That is, plants that live inside of rocks. That and the stories of the wild biological communities around deep-ocean vents are clues about what TFA describes, but wow, I had no idea.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 4:43 PM on June 24 [2 favorites]

Slow life? Don't trust any protomolecules it sends our way.
posted by stevis23 at 5:20 PM on June 24 [4 favorites]

deep :-) Hazen's Symphony in Carbon also looks interesting [gbooks]
posted by HearHere at 6:56 PM on June 24

the obvious solution would be to drill for more microbes.
posted by clavdivs at 7:10 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Tommy Gold’s Deep Hot Biosphere
That sounds like title of either a disco funk album, or a porn film.

¿Por qué no las dos?
posted by signal at 7:56 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]

Just a couple of weeks ago, there was this Metafilter post about how the atmosphere is full of life, much higher up than you might believe. Together, these two posts paint a beautiful picture of a living planet.
posted by Termite at 8:57 PM on June 24 [10 favorites]

Thank you Termite! I had missed that post.
posted by tavella at 8:18 AM on June 25

concentrate minerals and precious metals

Next link in the supply chain- Gold Digging Ants. (Or marmots.)
posted by BWA at 9:35 AM on June 25

Marmot digging ants?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:29 AM on June 25

Mod note: This fascinating post has been added to the sidebar and Best of blog!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:47 AM on June 27

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