1: Microbial Biomineralisation, Biogeochemistry and Biodiversity of Chemolithotrophic Microorganisms in the Tunnel of Äspö (Sweden)

Principal investigator PI and Co-PIs

Project summary

The Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory (HRL) in southern Sweden is a 3.6 km long and up to 500 m deep tunnel designated to the exploration of the deep biosphere within continental granitic rocks.

Here, a number of deep groundwater seepage sites and associated ponds are accessible which both exhibit an enormous diversity of aerobic and anaerobic, mainly chemolithotrophic microorganisms.
This window into the microbiology of the deep biosphere may serve as a model system for the interaction of microbiological processes and mineral precipitation within the continental vein systems.

Central part of the project is a multidisciplinary analysis of biodiversity, structure and physiological effects of this chemolithotrophic system apt to establish specific signatures for tracing deep biosphere communities in continental settings. Several proxies will be used as a basis for modelling of biomass fluxes in the upper continental crust. Vein minerals, as potential archives for fossil deep biospheres, will be investigated in order to test the application of the results for interpretation of the fossil record.


Prof. Dr. Joachim Reitner