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H2DEEP - Ultraslow spreading and hydrogen-based deep biosphere: A site survey proposal for zero-age drilling of the Knipovich Ridge

English title H2DEEP - Ultraslow spreading and hydrogen-based deep biosphere: A site survey proposal for zero-age drilling of the Knipovich Ridge
Applicant Bernasconi-Green Gretchen
Number 115916
Funding scheme Project funding (special)
Research institution Institut für Mineralogie und Petrographie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.06.2007 - 30.09.2010
Approved amount 388'855.00
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All Disciplines (2)


Keywords (14)

Mid-ocean ridges; Marine hydrothermal systems; Multidisciplinary studies; Marine geology; Serpentinization; Volatiles; Knipovich Ridge; ultraslow spreading; EuroMarc; organic geochemistry; stable isotopes; carbon; sulfur; microbial activity

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
This is a collaborative research project (CRP) as part of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES EuroMARC Programme, and consists of six individual projects (IP) and one associated project. This interdisciplinary, international project is aimed at studying geodynamic and hydrothermal processes and their links to the deep biosphere along the Southern Knipovich Ridge (SKR), one of the most slow-spreading segments of the global ridge system. Our results will lay the ground for a European-led proposal to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) aimed at testing hypotheses on the geodynamics, the extent and nature of hydrothermal activity, water-rock-microbe interactions and a hydrogen-based, deep biosphere at the ultraslow end of the spreading rate spectrum. The Knipovich Ridge is one of the Arctic spreading ridges in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea with an effective spreading rate of only ~ 6 mm/y; the southernmost part of this ridge is one of the slowest spreading ridge segments on Earth. Our IP focuses on understanding water-rock interactions and the links between chemical and microbiological processes associated with alteration of the oceanic crust and with serpentinization in ultra-slow spreading environments. Our project bridges the gap between the other IPs, which include geophysical, petrologic and tectonic studies and studies focusing on ore genesis, geomicrobiology and astrobiology. Our project will combine petrological, geochemical, light stable isotope and organic geochemical studies on basement dredge samples, on sediments obtained by gravity coring, and on pore and vent fluids to constrain the nature of the hydrothermal system(s). Specific questions that we will address are: What are the dominant mineral-fluid reactions and conditions (temperature, fluid flux, and relations to deformation) of alteration and hydrothermal activity at the SKR? How does seawater-rock interaction change spatially and temporally along the ridge segment and influence the chemical compositions of the fluids and rocks in this system? In which species do carbon, hydrogen and sulfur occur in these systems and what processes control their speciation and the evolution of volatiles (CH4, H2, CO2, and H2S) in these environments? How are volatiles linked to microbial activity at hydrothermal vent sites and in the subsurface?
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
132804 H2DEEP - Ultraslow Spreading, Hydrothermal Alteration and a Hydrogen-based Biosphere 01.10.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)