photo of fungi in petri dishes

Geology Lecture: Life at the Edge of What Is Possible – Microbial Biosignatures in the Lower Oceanic Crust

Anne Matthews News

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Geology Lecture series continues virtually for 2020-21 on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 2:00 pm (note special time). Dr. Ginny Edgcomb, with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, will present a lecture on Life at the edge of what is possible: Microbial biosignatures in the lower oceanic crust. Dr. Edgcomb joins us as an Ocean Discovery Lecture Series Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. Edgcomb earned her B.S. from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. She also completed two postdoctoral fellowships at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and is currently an Associate Scientist at Woods Hole. Dr. Edgcomb has over 75 publications in leading scientific journals and is Associate Editor for Extreme Microbiology and a Review Editor for Aquatic Microbiology.

The lower oceanic crust represents one of the last frontiers for biological exploration on Earth. Even if life exists in only a fraction of the habitable volume where temperatures permit and fluid flow can deliver carbon and energy sources, an active lower oceanic crust biosphere would have implications for deep carbon budgets and may yield insights into microbiota that may have existed on early Earth. Dr. Edgcomb will present research from the Indian Ocean lower oceanic crust (IODP Expedition 360, Atlantis Bank) that provides evidence for living/viable microbiota in this challenging habitat. The IODP Expedition 360 to the Atlantis Bank Oceanic Core Complex on the SW Indian Ridge, Indian Ocean, presented a unique opportunity to explore the microbiology of the lower oceanic crust which is exposed at the seafloor in approximately 700 meters of water, providing unique drilling access to an otherwise largely inaccessible realm. She will also touch on comparisons with studies of the marine sedimentary deep biosphere.

Geology Lecture Series talks are free and are currently being held virtually from the college website, Click on the LiveStream button. For those not able to watch live, lectures are archived, with access from the College’s website at

Additional talks in the series this year include: The 16th Annual Cascadia Anniversary Lecture on “Whale Seismology” with Dr. William Wilcock (University of Washington) on Tuesday, January 26 at 7:00 pm; Dr. Sean Davis (NOAA) with a climate change talk on Tuesday, February 23 at 7:00 pm; Dr. Scott Burns (Portland State) discussing Radon on Saturday, March 13 at 7:00 pm; Dr.  Jessica Labonté (Texas A & M) with life around hydrothermal vents on Friday, April 9 at 7:00 pm; and Dr. Guoqinq Lin (University of Miami) on the 2018 Kilauea Volcano Eruption. Lecture series sponsors include DB Western, The Mill Casino, IRIS/SSA, Ocean Discovery Lecture Series, the Southwestern Foundation and the College. 

For additional information, please contact Ron Metzger at 541-888-7216; [email protected].