Subseafloor Ocean Biosphere and Borehole Observatory Science (SOBBOS)

October 19-21, 2009 – Kona Coast, Hawaii
Convener: Jan Amand


The workshop “Subseafloor Ocean Biosphere and Borehole Observatory Science” was the first of five theme-based workshops planned the Dark Energy Biosphere Institute (DEBI), which is an NSF Research Coordinated Network. The workshop was comprised of a series of keynote speakers, open microphone time, poster sessions, breakout discussion sessions and hands-on training/demonstration sessions.

The discussions were far-ranging and generated science questions, ideas, and technological wish-lists. There was strong confirmation of the importance of, and still very much unresolved, questions related to the limits of life, potential physiological-metabolic diversity and novelty, and the ecological connectivity of deep subseafloor environments. Each of the discussion groups offered up long lists of compelling scientific questions and objectives, both overarching and specific, many of which will lead to exciting proposals and studies. Technology discussions provided an opportunity for newcomers to further learn about the attributes and limitations of CORK observatories and associated instrumentation. These discussions also unleashed a treasure trove of anticipated technologies needed to support routine and innovative research approaches in the deep biosphere, from improved contamination avoidance to a greatly enlarged quiver of in situ sensors and samplers to new drilling technologies (e.g., improved rock-core recoveries) and improved power supply and communication (e.g., cables and beyond). The groups acknowledged that while some of the required technological advances may need to be developed de novo from within the DEBI community, there are many advantages to partnering with other technologically savvy organizations (i.e., NASA, oil and gas industries). The ‘Scenario Planning’ group discussions considered what fundamental deep subseafloor biosphere science questions cannot be adequately addressed by the existing observatory facilities (including upcoming North Pond deployments). It is understood that the deep subseafloor basement and sediment environments are globally heterogeneous and that a full appreciation of the ecology and biogeochemistry of the deep subseafloor biosphere will require serious investigation of a much broad selection of subseafloor environments.

Workshop Report (pdf)
Workshop Report Appendix (pdf)

Steering Committee

Jim Cowen (Chair), University of Hawaii
Brian Glazer, University of Hawaii
Andy Fisher, University of California, Santa Cruz
Jan Amend, Washington University in St. Louis