Observing Seafloor Methane Seeps at the Edge of Hydrate Stability

WaterWord of the Day: Foraminifera

By Psammophile - Microphotographie personnelle
Jul. 05 2019

The WaterWord: Foraminifera


  • Foraminifera are a group of protists similar to amoebas that mostly live in the world’s oceans. Many of them live in the benthic sediments, though some float in the water column.
  • Foraminifera eat a wide variety of things, and some species even steal chlorophyll from the algae they eat to do their own photosynthesis.


Foraminifera “Star sand” from Hatoma Island – Japan.By Psammophile - Microphotographie personnelle

Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:

  • Foraminifera are an important part of many ocean food chains, especially benthic ones. In addition, as they die, their bodies fall through the ocean until they reach the seafloor, helping to form ocean sediments.
  • Some oil and gas companies use the foraminifera fossils they find in cores to help evaluate the age of the rock and look for oil and gas deposits.

U.S. Geological Survey/Schmidt Ocean Institute Use:

  • USGS and SOI are collaborating on a research cruise off the coast of Oregon and Washington that will study methane seeps and what communities of creatures and other organisms live near them.

Next WaterWord: Infauna

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