Front Page

Welcome to the Subseafloor Lab!

The lab is directed by Geoff Wheat, Professor of Geological Oceanography at University of Alaska Fairbanks and adjunct researcher at MBARI. Geoff is joined by Claudia Paul and Trevor Fournier who came with him from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Our Work

While there is still much to discover within the ocean and there are vast parts of the ocean that have never been visited, there is even less known about processes that affect the subseafloor. But, why should we be concerned with the subseafloor? The subseafloor, which is comprised of mostly basaltic rocks and overlying sediment, supports microbial life and a host of metabolic pathways. There are more microbial cells in the subseafloor than there are in the ocean! Did you know that the upper portion of the basaltic ocean crust is primarily pillow lava flows and that these pillows are very permeable? These permeable pathways allow hydrothermal fluids to redistribute 25% of Earth’s heat loss, affecting thermal balances and chemical cycles in the ocean. Also, did you know that the combination of geologic processes, hydrothermal fluid flow, and microbial process have created metal-rich ore deposits that will likely be excavated within the next decade even though key ecosystem services have not been identified in and around such deposits? The Subseafloor Lab works on a range of projects using biogeochemical and hydrologic data to characterize subseafloor processes.