Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Hints of Alien Life: Scientists Look to Washington and Oregon Coast

Published 04/10/2019 at 5:33 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Hints of Alien Life: Scientists Look to Washington and Oregon Coast

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; major specials now that winter is here
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
major specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Winter's enticing specials now
In Lincoln City:
Major winter specials now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
major specials this season
In Newport:
Look for many specials
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials and tempting prices now
In Yachats, Florence
Big deals available; lodgings not listed anywhere else

(Corvallis, Oregon) – Scientists from Oregon State University in Corvallis recently published their findings regarding microbial life off the Washington coast that are not only more primitive than previously known to exist but they also help give glimpses into what life on other worlds may be like.

With their ship docked in Astoria, on the north Oregon coast, researchers dug down 1.6 miles below the surface of the ocean off the Juan de Fuca Ridge, about 120 miles off the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. There, they discovered a form of microbe so unevolved it resembles the lifeforms of Earth’s earliest existence. It was a remarkable discovery: a community of hydrogen-consuming microbes that were like nothing seen before.

In their paper, the researchers reveal a community of microbial organisms that survives using an ancient metabolic method that is so unlike most other lifeforms currently in existence.

OSU’s Amy Smith was a doctoral student at the time, and she’s now lead author on the paper recently published in the ISME Journal, a publication of the International Society for Microbial Ecology. In it, she describes an organism with a very different metabolism, one that has not evolved since life first popped up on this planet billions of years ago.

“We went into the study expecting to find one kind of microbe, and we found others - similar, but a more ancient lineage dependent upon hydrogen,” Smith said.

It’s the sort of find that has some in the astronomy world excited as well: these kinds of extremophiles (microbes that thrive in extremely hot environments) are of interest to those looking for life on other planets. Scientists at OSU said these “may be the type of life most likely to exist on any of a billion planets that contain water and volcanic rock.”

The project took a few years. Researchers drilled deep holes into basalt rock – reaching down more than 1100 feet below the ocean floor – then placed PVC plastic chambers inside. Leaving these “traps” for four years, the microbes eventually colonized the minerals inside. They found at least 11 different species of primitive microbes.

These creatures live without oxygen, according to another OSU researcher on the project, Martin Fisk. Instead of living on organic carbon, they eat hydrogen. It’s believed they existed at a time when Earth had no oxygen.

It’s likely even the Oregon coast has these tiny time-trippers lurking offshore.

“We believe these microbes are actually throughout all of oceanic crust, which covers over 60 percent of the Earth’s surface,” Smith said. “They especially love it hot, so crust that is covered in sediment helps keep their habitat the perfect temperature. The sediment that covers the area we studied came from the continents originally either as runoff or as algae and diatoms bloomed near the coast. This area is susceptible to glacial-interglacial cycles and sea level changes due to its proximity to land. I would say it could be considered a near-shore spreading ridge that is affected by continental processes.”

Oregon Coast Lodgings in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours




More Oregon coast below:








More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

 



Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

New Surge in Orca Sightings Over Weekend Good Sign for Oregon Coast Holiday
Chances may be good you'll get to spot some over holiday weekend. Whales, marine sciences
Obvious and the Hidden at Cape Kiwanda: Deep Inside the Oregon Coast Landmark
What you don't know about the Pacific City icon may thrill you. Travel tips, kids
Florence's Old Town Park and Gazebo Filled with Historic Oregon Coast Atmosphere
Old Town Park and its lush greenery keeping the place hidden from view. Travel tips, kids
One Magnificent Blob, Myriad Oregon Coast Surprises in One Cove
Short Beach near Oceanside is aptly named ? there's little of it. Kids, travel tips
What They Don't Tell You About Oregon Coast Spring: Orcas, Deserted Beaches, ...
Lodging prices, low tides, free-flying sea foam and the marvels of whales. Weather
'Skinny Whales' Remain Issue on Washington / Oregon Coast, But May Be Lessening
Scientists still don't know what's causing it. Marine sciences
Lincoln City's Spring Break About 200 Glass Floats, Magic, More Oregon Coast ...
Festival of Illusions, whale week, glass floats, beachcombing guides. Lincoln City events
N. Oregon Coast's Indian Beach at Cannon Beach, Historical and Film Fame
Much in the way of views here, but there's history as well. Travel tips, geology
Central Oregon Coast's Heceta Head Light Celebrates 128 Years, March 30
A party with food, music, whale watching and a whole lot of outdoor fun
2022's Oregon Coast Whale Watch Season Begins Now With Babies in Tow, Orcas
Get ready for lots of whales along the entire length and live streams of them. Sciences, travel tips, kids
Timely, Deeper Look at Oregon Coast Orcas in Presentation on March 9
It comes just as killer whales are spotted rather early here. Seaside events, Tillamook events, Lincoln City events, Newport events, Yachats events, South Coast events
An Oregon Coast Inn / Rental With Killer Views, Deep Depoe Bay Vibes
Snuggle Inn, a two-story charmer with two vacation rentals inside. Hotel reviews, travel tips
Ethereal Nocturnal Glow of Astoria, N. Oregon Coast
After the sun goes down and the street lights come up it comes alive. Travel tips, kids
Oregon Coast Crews Attend to Giant, Beached Whale on Washington Side
The gray whale was 39 feet long, had orca battle scars and was killed by a ship. Marine sciences

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details