Diffuse hydrothermal venting is a source of iron in the deep-sea, and influences the abundance of iron in the oceans. Iron oxidizing bacteria dominate these vent sites and produce microbial iron mats that can be centimeters thick. Scientists have now provided the first estimates of the in situ growth rates of the microorganisms in these communities, and the accretion rates of iron mats, at the Lō’ihi Seamount in Hawai’i. The work also provides new insight into the role of iron oxidizing bacteria in the formation of iron mats.

The paper, “In situ estimates of iron-oxidation and accretion rates for iron-oxidizing bacterial mats at Lō’ihi Seamount,” was published in Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. The work was supported by NASA Astrobiology through the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology Program.