The laboratory of Julie Huber is investigating the microbial communities of the rocky subseafloor at Axial Seamount, an active submarine volcano that is part of the NSF Oceans Observatory Initiative seafloor cabled observatory. In 2013 they reported the first combined molecular and microscopical analysis of microbial communities in a “snowblower vent,” an ephemeral and uncommonly observed phenomenon following seafloor volcanic eruptions. During these eruptions, rapidly cooling lava entrains seawater and hydrothermal fluids enriched in geochemical reactants, creating a natural bioreactor that supports a bloom of subseafloor microbial life. They documented the presence of bacterial species capable of oxidizing sulfur, which take advantage of this transient energy source provided by deep-sea eruptions, and demonstrated that these communities are seeded from both subseafloor and bottom seawater communities.
Meyer, J. L., Akerman, N. H., Proskurowski, G., and Huber, J. A. (2013). “Microbiological characterization of post-eruption “snowblower” vents at Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge.” Front Microbiol, 4, 153.
Learn more about Julie’s laboratory and her research here.