Microbial Mysteries in the Gulf of California

The Gulf of California, one of the most intriguing places I have worked, is home to deeply interesting and fascinating seafloor habitats. In this actively rifting, young ocean basin, the East Pacific Rise extends to the northwest along a meandering path of faults and fissures, ultimately transitioning to the San Andreas Fault on land. Sediment is delivered to the Gulf of California by six rivers. Organic rich sediment packages hundreds of meters thick lie atop the hydrothermal spreading center. Hydrothermal fluids heat and alter the sedimentary organic carbon, generating an energy-rich cocktail capable of fueling a wide array of life, ranging from free-living microorganisms to large symbiotic fauna and mobile scavengers. The otherworldly environments found along the seabed in the Gulf of California are simply incredible. To follow our #microbialmysteries expedition, visit the cruise log on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s website and watch the live ROV feed on Schmidt Ocean’s YouTube channel.