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Interdisciplinary Seminar: Andrew Hyde
April 26 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Seminar Title: Of methane and microbes: bio-geosphere interactions in the world’s methane hydrate reserves
Abstract: Methane hydrates are a type of ice that has trapped methane molecules. It is estimated that there may be 1500 gigatons (1015 g) of carbon trapped in methane hydrates in the sediments of the world’s continental margins. This volume of methane gas is equal to the volume of the Mediterranean Sea under standard conditions; providing a tremendous amount of potential energy to the ~106 microbial cells/cm3 found in hydrate sediments. This seminar explores the interplay between these rich microbial communities and this large methane reservoir. Understanding the metabolic activities of these microbes will shed light on how these vast stores of methane are both created and maintained. The production of methane by subsurface archaea is responsible for the majority of the gas trapped in methane hydrates. These hydrates in turn host a unique microbial consortium (Anaerobic Methanotroph-Sulfate Reducing Bacteria), which have evolved the unique capability to take advantage of methane in the absence of oxygen. Finally, we discuss how these processes are related in hydrate systems on earth as well as how hydrates might fuel life on Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.