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No. 43: Jan-Feb 1986

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Exploring The Suberranean World Of Life

Examining fluid inclusions in hydrothermal quartz crystals obtained from a drill hole in Yellowstone National Park, K.E. Bargar and his colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey noted many rodlike and threadlike particles that closely resembled bacteria. Although these partiles move, as if alive, they are only in Brownian motion. But even in death, they tell us that life forms can prosper deep underground at very high pressures and temperatures. The crystals that ultimately grew around the fluid particles came from fractures in Pleistocene rhyolite hundreds of feet below the surface. The authors concluded:

"Thermophilic microorganisms may hold the key to an understanding of several biological and geochemical processes, including the origin of life. The discovery of possible microorganisms in these fluid inclusions from the Yellowstone volcanic area enlarges the range of potential environments over which subsequent investigations should be conducted."

(Barger, Keith E., et al; "Particles in Fluid Inclusions from Yellowstone National Park -- Bacteria?" Geology, 13:483, 1985.)

Comment. It is appropriate to note that similar "organized elements" have been noticed in meteorites for over a century.

From Science Frontiers #43, JAN-FEB 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss