In the sixth episode of the Motherboard series The Most Unknown, geobiologist Victoria Orphan and astrophysicist Rachel Smith explain how microorganism colonies in the ocean are changing the chemical balance of the earth in some very good ways. They gather samples by riding down to the seafloor in a small shuttle and return with multitudes of tiny creatures that they are studying. These microorganisms are able convert methane into hydrogen sulfide, which is beneficial to other sea life and less toxic for the environment.
The organisms we are very interested in studying are ones that are using methane as an energy source. They’re changing the chemical environment to making hydrogen sulfide that other animals are thriving on, actually creating carbonates – so paving the seafloor. The evolution of how organisms partnered together and how ecosystems are structured and I think is fundamental for our understanding how life has changed and evolved over the course of history.