ODP Technical Note 28: Methods for Quantifying Potential Microbial Contamination during Deep Ocean Coring1, 2

David C. Smith,3 Arthur J. Spivack,4 Martin R. Fisk,5 Shelley A. Haveman,6 Hubert Staudigel,7 and the Leg 185 Shipboard Scientific Party8


The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) is committed to deep-biosphere research and has constructed a new microbiological laboratory on board the JOIDES Resolution. The use of the JOIDES Resolution as a platform for deep-biosphere research requires that the recovered cores are suitable for microbiological study. The major concern is whether microbes from the drilling fluid are introduced into the recovered core material during coring. Therefore, it is critical to verify whether recovered cores are contaminated. Here we present details of two tracer methods used to quantify the amount of contamination. These methods were modified from land-based drilling operations for use on the JOIDES Resolution (see review by Griffin et al., 1997). Tracer experiments were first conducted during ODP Leg 185 (Plank, Ludden, Escutia, et al., in press) and involve the delivery of both chemical and particulate tracers during drilling and their quantification in the ODP cores. These tracers were introduced while drilling unconsolidated sediments using the advanced hydraulic piston corer (APC), sedimentary rock using the extended core barrel and rotary core barrel (RCB), and igneous rock using the RCB and diamond core barrel. This technical note presents details on the characteristics, preparation, and delivery of the tracers and their quantification in cores. Suggestions are made regarding sample handling with the goal of minimizing sample contamination. It is strongly recommended that these contamination tests be routinely conducted when coring for microbiological studies.

1Smith, D.C., Spivack, A.J., Fisk, M.R., Haveman, S.A., Staudigel, H., and the Leg 185 Shipboard Scientific Party, 2000. Methods for quantifying potential microbial contamination during deep ocean coring. ODP Tech. Note, 28 [Online]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www-odp.
tamu.edu/publications/tnotes/tn28/INDEX.HTM>. [Cited YYYY-MM-DD]

2See Disclaimer.

3Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett RI 02882, USA. dcsmith@gsosun1.gso.uri.edu

4Center for Marine Science Research, University of North Carolina, Wilmington NC 28403, USA.

5College of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR 97331, USA.

6Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Göteborg University, Göteborg SE-40530, Sweden.

7Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla CA 92093, USA.

8See the Leg 185 Initial Reports volume.