First results from James Cameron's trip to the abyss


































IT'S not Pandora, but the Mariana trench holds life just as strange as that in James Cameron's film Avatar. And most is unknown to us, despite the film-maker's 11-kilometre descent into Earth's deepest point in a titanium sphere.












Cameron and scientists on the team presented early findings at the American Geophysical Union's meeting in San Francisco last week. They told of microbial mats growing at the edge of hydrothermal vents on rocks that appeared to be undergoing serpentinisation - where seawater reacts with the mineral olivine to release hydrogen and methane: food for the microbes. The first life on Earth may have appeared at a similar vent, as serpentinisation provides all the raw materials necessary for metabolism.













Cameron urged further trips into unexplored ocean trenches: "Saying I made any dent would be like dropping out of an airplane at night onto a wheat field in Nebraska, walking for 2 kilometres, and saying I explored America."


















































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