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Rusticles on the wreck of Titanic

Outer Space on the Seafloor

The discovery of rusticles—rusting iron—on the wreck of the RMS Titanic opened a new field of research into the microscopic bacteria eating the iron. If bacteria can thrive on iron in the oxygen-poor ocean depths, where else might we find such life? Scientists at WHOI are studying iron deposits in the deep sea, pursuing the possibility of finding simple life forms in extreme environments, including, perhaps, other planets. WHOI researchers are also currently helping map the Titanic’s hull and debris field in high definition and in three dimensions. Large portions of the wreck are believed to be in danger of collapse after nearly a century beneath the surface of the Atlantic.

(Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)

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