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Might Earth’s deep subsurface be “brimming with life”?

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Hydrogen Element - Visual Elements Periodic Table

Geobiologist Alexis Templeton thinks it matters:

We humans tend to see the world as a solid rock coated with a thin layer of life. But to scientists like Templeton, the planet looks more like a wheel of cheese, one whose thick, leathery rind is perpetually gnawed and fermented by the microbes that inhabit its innards. Those creatures draw nourishment from sources that sound not only inedible, but also intangible: the atomic decay of radioactive elements, the pressure-cooking of rocks as they sink and melt into the Earth’s deep interior—and perhaps even earthquakes.

And the implications for finding life on Mars?

Finding that life will be a challenge. With existing technologies, a probe sent to Mars could drill no more than a few feet below its hostile surface. Those shallow rocks might contain signs of past life—perhaps desiccated carcasses of Martian cells, sitting inside the microscopic tunnels that they chewed into the minerals—but any living microbes are likely to be buried hundreds of feet deeper. Douglas Fox, “Meet the Endoterrestrials” at The Atlantic

The fact that many life forms in these extreme environments live on hydrogen suggests that the earliest organisms did so. But we might do well to be careful here: It could be that these organisms devolved from life forms with more complex diets because that is how they survived in these places (devolution).

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See also: Researchers: Horizontal gene transfer may have helped early microbes move out of hot springs


ET life might be huddled under hydrogen blankets

polistra, instead of 'angels of God', I would say that the Metallome is further evidence of Michael Denton's Anthropocentric thesis that the period table itself is Intelligently Designed with life, human life in particular, being the end goal.
“Dr. Michael Denton on Evidence of Fine-Tuning in the Universe” (Remarkable balance, and 'coincidences', of various key elements for life) – podcast http://intelligentdesign.podomatic.com/entry/2012-08-21T14_43_59-07_00 The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis - Michael J. Denton - February 25, 2013 Summary (page 11) Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive. It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms. http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.1/BIO-C.2013.1 Privileged Species – video (2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoI2ms5UHWg
@ba77: The metallome is an interesting concept. Maybe bacteria are the hand of God or the angels of God, the agents who form planets according to his will. polistra
To put it mildly, this minimization of poisonous elements, and 'explosion' of useful minerals, is strong evidence for Intelligently Designed terra-forming of the earth that 'just so happens' to be of great benefit to modern man. Clearly many, if not all, of the metal ores and minerals laid down by these various types of bacteria, as well as being laid down by the biogeochemistry of more complex life, have many unique properties which are crucial for technologically advanced life, and are thus indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to the advanced 'space-age' technology of modern civilization. Dr. Ross points out that the extremely long amount of time it took to prepare a suitable place for technologically advanced humans to exist in this universe, for the relatively short period of time that we can exist on this planet, is actually a point of evidence that argues strongly for Theism:
Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency. Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now. http://christiangodblog.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_archive.html
Another fact that is contrary to Darwinian thinking, these microbes that are deep in the earth's crust are found to be surprisingly similar all over the world:
Collecting Census Data On Microbial Denizens of Hardened Rocks Dec. 9, 2013 Excerpt: What they're finding is that, even miles deep and halfway across the globe, many of these (microbial)communities are somehow quite similar. The results,,, suggest that these communities may be connected,,, he said. "we're seeing the same types of organisms everywhere we look." Schrenk leads a team,, studying samples from deep underground in California, Finland and from mine shafts in South Africa. The scientists also collect microbes from the deepest hydrothermal vents in the Caribbean Ocean. "It's easy to understand how birds or fish might be similar oceans apart," Schrenk said. "But it challenges the imagination to think of nearly identical microbes 16,000 kilometers apart from each other in the cracks of hard rock at extreme depths, pressures and temperatures." "Integrating this region into existing models of global biogeochemistry and gaining better understanding into how deep rock-hosted organisms contribute or mitigate greenhouse gases (and toxic metals) could help us unlock puzzles surrounding modern-day Earth, ancient Earth,,, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209124115.htm
Also of related interest, besides being found deep in the Earth's crust, microbial communities are also found high in the Earth's atmosphere as well:
Bugs in the Atmosphere: Significant Microorganism Populations Found in Middle and Upper Troposphere - Jan. 28, 2013 Excerpt: In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers used genomic techniques to document the presence of significant numbers of living microorganisms -- principally bacteria -- in the middle and upper troposphere, that section of the atmosphere approximately four to six miles above Earth's surface. Whether the microorganisms routinely inhabit this portion of the atmosphere -- perhaps living on carbon compounds also found there -- or whether they were simply lofted there from Earth's surface isn't yet known. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128151912.htm Information Storage — In the Cloud(s) - August 23, 2017 Excerpt: This could change your cloud viewing forever. Up there in those drifting puffs of white, tens of thousands of complex organisms live in cloud cities! There are a hundred to a thousand eukaryotic cells per milliliter, and a thousand to ten thousand bacteria and archaea. These numbers vastly exceed cell counts from previous observations. “Clouds are extremely rich and diverse mosaics of multiple sources ecosystems,” the researchers say.,,, https://evolutionnews.org/2017/08/information-storage-in-the-clouds/
Isaiah 45:18-19 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”
Actually, instead of being evidence that microbial life can 'spontaneously' arise on Mars, or spontaneously arise on some other planet, this is actually more evidence for the "Intelligently Designed" terraforming of the earth to make it habitable for higher organisms such as ourselves. From the article:
Meet the Endoterrestrials - DOUGLAS FOX - OCT 17, 2018 They live thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. They eat hydrogen and exhale methane. And they may shape our world more profoundly than we can imagine. Excerpt: Some of the world’s richest deposits of iron, lead, zinc, copper, silver, and other metals formed when hydrogen sulfide latched onto metals that had dissolved deep underground. The sulfide locked the metals in place, concentrating them into minerals that accumulated for millions of years—until they were exhumed by miners. The hydrogen sulfide that formed those ores often came from volcanic sources, but in some cases, it came from microbes. Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., believes that more than half of Earth’s minerals owe their existence to life—to the roots of plants, to corals and diatoms, and even to subsurface microbes. He has even speculated that the world’s seven continents may owe their existence, in part, to microbes gnawing on rocks. Four billion years ago, Earth had no permanent land—just a few volcanic peaks jutting above the ocean. But microbes on the seafloor may have helped change that. They attacked iron-rich basalt rocks, much as they do today, converting the volcanic glass into clay minerals. Those clays melted more readily than other rocks. And once melted, they resolidified into a new kind of rock, a material lighter and fluffier than the rest of the planet: granite. Those buoyant granites piled into heaps that rose above the ocean, creating the first permanent continents. This would have happened to some degree without the help of microbes, but Hazen suspects that they accelerated the process. “You can imagine microbes shifting the balance,” he says. “What we’re arguing is that microbes played a fundamental role.” The emergence of land had a profound effect on Earth’s evolution. Rocks exposed to the air broke down more quickly, releasing trace nutrients such as molybdenum, iron, and phosphorus into the oceans. These nutrients spurred the growth of photosynthetic algae, which absorbed carbon dioxide and exhaled oxygen. Just over 2 billion years ago, the first traces of oxygen appeared in Earth’s atmosphere. Five hundred and fifty million years ago, oxygen levels finally rose high enough to support the first primitive animals. Earth’s abundant water, and its optimal distance from the sun, made it a promising incubator for life. But its evolution into a paradise for intelligent, oxygen-breathing animals was never guaranteed. Microbes may have pushed our planet over an invisible tipping point—and toward the formation of continents, oxygen, and life as we know it. Even today, microbes continue to make, and remake, our planet from the inside out. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/10/meet-endoterrestrials/571939/
Of related interest, Banded Iron Formations (BIFs), contrary to Darwinian thought, give evidence that photosynthetic bacteria have been on Earth ever since it has been possible for them the exist on Earth.
Banded Rocks Reveal Early Earth Conditions, Changes Excerpt: Called banded iron formations or BIFs, these ancient rocks formed between 3.8 and 1.7 billion years ago at what was then the bottom of the ocean. The stripes represent alternating layers of silica-rich chert and iron-rich minerals like hematite and magnetite. First mined as a major iron source for modern industrialization, BIFs are also a rich source of information about the geochemical conditions that existed on Earth when the rocks were made. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091011184428.htm Life's history in iron - Nov. 7, 2014 Excerpt: A new study examines how Earth's oldest iron formations could have been formed before oxygenic photosynthesis played a role in oxidizing iron.,,, Microorganisms that photosynthesize in the absence of oxygen assimilate carbon by using iron oxide (Fe(II)) as an electron donor instead of water. While oxygenic photosynthesis produces oxygen in the atmosphere (in the form of dioxygen), anoxygenic photosynthesis adds an electron to Fe(II) to produce Fe(III). "In other words, they oxidize the iron," explains Pecoits. "This finding is very important because it implies that this metabolism was already active back in the early Archean (ca. 3.8 Byr-ago)." http://phys.org/news/2014-11-life-history-iron.html Iron in Primeval Seas Rusted by Bacteria – Apr. 23, 2013 Excerpt: The oldest known iron ores were deposited in the Precambrian period and are up to four billion years old. ,,, This research not only provides the first clear evidence that microorganisms were directly involved in the deposition of Earth’s oldest iron formations; it also indicates that large populations of oxygen-producing cyanobacteria were at work in the shallow areas of the ancient oceans, while deeper water still reached by the light (the photic zone) tended to be populated by anoxyenic or micro-aerophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria which formed the iron deposits.,,, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423110750.htm
Besides photosynthetic bacteria, other types of bacteria, as the article in the OP hinted at, also helped prepare the earth for advanced life by detoxifying the primeval earth and oceans of poisonous levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ores. Metal ores which are very useful for modern man, as well as fairly easy for man to extract today (mercury, cadmium, zinc, cobalt, arsenic, chromate, tellurium and copper to name a few). To this day, various types of bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these heavy metals in the ecosystem which are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms.
Bacterial Heavy Metal Detoxification and Resistance Systems: Excerpt: Bacterial plasmids contain genetic determinants for resistance systems for Hg2+ (and organomercurials), Cd2+, AsO2, AsO43-, CrO4 2-, TeO3 2-, Cu2+, Ag+, Co2+, Pb2+, and other metals of environmental concern.,, Recombinant DNA analysis has been applied to mercury, cadmium, zinc, cobalt, arsenic, chromate, tellurium and copper resistance systems. http://www.springerlink.com/content/u1t281704577v8t3/ Similar organisms deal with life in the extreme differently, research finds - September 24, 2012 Excerpt: One single-celled organism from a hot spring near Mount Vesuvius in Italy fights uranium toxicity directly – by eating the heavy metal and acquiring energy from it. Another single-celled organism that lives on a "smoldering heap" near an abandoned uranium mine in Germany overcomes uranium toxicity indirectly – essentially shutting down its cellular processes to induce a type of cellular coma when toxic levels of uranium are present in its environment. Interestingly, these very different responses to environmental stress come from two organisms that are 99.99 percent genetically identical. http://phys.org/news/2012-09-similar-life-extreme-differently.html
As the following article states, "The metals of the metallome, while they serve specific life enabling functions, can also be toxic if present in the wrong cellular location at the wrong concentration. Hence the metallome, while essential, must be carefully controlled by the genome and proteome in a living system."
The Classic Metal Behind the Origins of Life - March 24, 2016 Excerpt: The Metallome A list of life-supporting metals with illustrative biological functions.* Sodium: nerve function, osmotic pressure balance, and charge stability of cell Potassium: nerve function, osmotic pressure balance, and charge stability of cell Magnesium: plant photosynthesis, structure stabilizer Calcium: skeletal structure forming (teeth, bones), control signal trigger Vanadium: catalyst for oxygen reactions, possibly involved in oxygen transport Chromium: possibly involved in insulin function Manganese: activator of certain enzymes, plant photosynthesis Iron: oxygen transport and storage, electron transport catalyst Cobalt: cell division, a constituent of vitamin B12 Nickel: hydrogen activation, catalytic protection from toxic superoxide Copper: respiratory chain electron transport catalyst, catalytic protection from toxic superoxide Zinc: super acid catalyst, enzyme activator, blood pH control Molybdenum: nitrogen fixation in plants, oxygen atom transfer catalyst Tungsten: oxygen atom transfer catalyst * This list contains metals that support essential life processes. The list is not meant to be complete for all organisms and not all organisms may require all of the above metals. However, some metallome elements are required by all living cells, such as iron, which is a necessary nutrient for more than 99 percent of all known cells. The metals of the metallome, while they serve specific life enabling functions, can also be toxic if present in the wrong cellular location at the wrong concentration. Hence the metallome, while essential, must be carefully controlled by the genome and proteome in a living system. http://nautil.us/issue/34/adaptation/the-classic-metal-behind-the-origins-of-life
Also of note, and as was also hinted at in the article in the OP,,,
Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos - Aug. 2015 Excerpt: Nearly a decade ago, Hazen developed the idea that the diversity explosion of planet's minerals from the dozen present at the birth of our Solar System to the nearly 5,000 types existing today arose primarily from the rise of life. More than two-thirds of known minerals can be linked directly or indirectly to biological activity, according to Hazen.,,, ,,, statistical analysis of mineral distribution and diversity suggested thousands of plausible rare minerals either still await discovery or occurred at some point in Earth's history,,, The team predicted that 1,563 minerals exist on Earth today, but have yet to be discovered and described.,,, Earth's mineralogy is unique in the cosmos," Hazen said. http://www.geologyin.com/2015/08/earths-mineralogy-unique-in-cosmos.html

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