Latest News & Announcements

Dr. Maggie Lau Selected as one of Two Recipients for the DCO Emerging Leader Awards

Associate Research Scholar Dr. Maggie Lau has been selected as one of two recipients for the 2017 Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) Emerging Leader Awards. Deep Carbon Observatory is a global research program with a goal to transform the understanding of what part carbon plays on planet Earth. This particular DCO award recognizes early scientists who have forged a newer understanding in the field of deep carbon science through their publications and active participation with the program.

Subsurface Microorganisms Work Together for Common Good

Sun beams reaching the surface of Earth not only warm our planet but also provide ample energy to living organisms.  Photosynthetic organisms capture efficiently the light energy to fix carbon and grow, which feed the rest of the food web such as animals, birds and heterotrophic bacteria.  In the deep subsurface, separated from the photosphere by kilometers of rock, chemolithotrophic microorganisms mine energy from geologically produced minerals and gases, a far more difficult existence compared to their photosynthetic comrades on the surface.

Visions of Life on Mars in Earth’s Depths as Investigated by Princeton GEO team

WITWATERSRAND BASIN, South Africa — A mile down in an unused mine tunnel, scientists guided by helmet lamps trudged through darkness and the muck of a flooded, uneven floor.  Leaning a ladder against the hard rock wall, Tullis C. Onstott, a geosciences professor at Princeton, climbed to open an old valve about a dozen feet up. Out flowed water chock-full of microbes, organisms flourishing from heat generated from the interior of the planet below.

Deep Life Book is published

Now available from Princeton University Press, "Deep Life" takes readers to uncharted regions deep beneath Earth’s crust in search of life in extreme environments and reveals how astonishing new discoveries by geomicrobiologists are helping the quest to find life in the solar system.

Discover Interview: Tullis Onstott Went 2 Miles Down & Found Microbes That Live on Radiation

The first time Tullis Onstott ventured underground, he squeezed into an elevator with dozens of South African gold miners and descended a mile into a pit called Mponeng. His goal: Finding the bizarre, hardy microbes that survive in sweltering, inhospitable rock. A geologist by training, Onstott spent his early career studying the Earth’s crust—until he heard a talk in 1993 about colonies of bacteria living thousands of feet below the surface. Ever since, he has made dozens of deep expeditions, sometimes paying his own way, and discovered bacteria living more than two miles beneath the surface in 140-degree-Fahrenheit heat. By investigating microbes in these harsh environments, Onstott is gleaning clues about how life could have begun in Earth’s hot, chaotic early days—and about what it might look like on other worlds. Even his office is underground, in the basement of Princeton University’s geology building, where Onstott met with DISCOVER reporter Valerie Ross.