DCO Project Summary

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Project Title
Microbial Life in an Underground Ancient Ocean: Metagenomics of the Soudan Iron Mine
Start DateEnd Date
2014-07-01 2014-12-31
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Embedded deep within northern Minnesota’s expansive Iron Range, the Soudan Iron Mine transects massive veins of hematite and Archaean (2.7 Gy) banded iron formations, reaching a depth of 713 m (2,341 ft) below the surface. Before mining ceased in 1962, vertical and horizontal exploratory cores were taken at its lowest level (Level 27, 713 m depth) to track the iron formation. Today these boreholes act as conduits for anoxic, low flow, saline groundwater in an otherwise dry mine. Despite carbon limitation, anoxic brines contain reduced metals and continuously evolve methane gas, raising questions about the microbes responsible for primary production and carbon flux in this subsurface ecosystem. Amplicon sequencing surveys and isolate genomes suggest novelty within these low-diversity communities, and establish an opportunity to study physiological adaptations of microorganisms that thrive in this fascinating subsurface environment. Our objective is to use shotgun metagenomic sequencing to address fundamental questions regarding the biogeochemical roles of Soudan’s microbial life and how these processes structure subsurface food webs. 

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Reporting Year 2014 Click to expand

  • RY2014-1 - submitted on Aug 31, 2014

    Update Details:

    Samples will soon arrive at the MBL for DNA sequencing.

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