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Contamination assessment in microbiological sampling of the Eyreville core, Chesapeake Bay impact structure

By
Aaron L. Gronstal
Aaron L. Gronstal
Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
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Mary A. Voytek
Mary A. Voytek
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 430, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA
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Julie D. Kirshtein
Julie D. Kirshtein
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 430, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA
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Nicole M. von der Heyde
Nicole M. von der Heyde
Biology Department, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
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Michael D. Lowit
Michael D. Lowit
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 430, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA
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Charles S. Cockell
Charles S. Cockell
Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2009

Knowledge of the deep subsurface biosphere is limited due to difficulties in recovering materials. Deep drilling projects provide access to the subsurface; however, contamination introduced during drilling poses a major obstacle in obtaining clean samples. To monitor contamination during the 2005 International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)–U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) deep drilling of the Chesapeake Bay impact structure, four methods were utilized. Fluorescent microspheres were used to mimic the ability of contaminant cells to enter samples through fractures in the core material during retrieval. Drilling mud was infused with a chemical tracer (Halon 1211) in order to monitor penetration of mud into cores. Pore water from samples was examined using excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence spectroscopy to characterize dissolved organic carbon (DOC) present at various depths. DOC signatures at depth were compared to signatures from drilling mud in order to identify potential contamination. Finally, microbial contaminants present in drilling mud were identified through 16S ribosomal deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) clone libraries and compared to species cultured from core samples. Together, these methods allowed us to categorize the recovered core samples according to the likelihood of contamination. Twenty-two of the 47 subcores that were retrieved were free of contamination by all the methods used and were subsequently used for microbiological culture and culture-independent analysis. Our approach provides a comprehensive assessment of both particulate and dissolved contaminants that could be applied to any environment with low biomass.

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GSA Special Papers

The ICDP-USGS Deep Drilling Project in the Chesapeake Bay impact structure: Results from the Eyreville Core Holes

Gregory S. Gohn
Gregory S. Gohn
U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, USA
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Christian Koeberl
Christian Koeberl
Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, USA
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Kenneth G. Miller
Kenneth G. Miller
Museum für Naturkunde–Leibniz Institute at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
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Wolf Uwe Reimold
Wolf Uwe Reimold
Museum für Naturkunde–Leibniz Institute at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany
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Geological Society of America
Volume
458
ISBN print:
9780813724584
Publication date:
January 01, 2009

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