Dr. Sanjoy Som Receives Lewis and Clark Award

BMSIS research scientist Dr. Sanjoy Som was selected for a 2013 Lewis and Clark Award to support field research in astrobiology. Dr. Som will be using his award to support his research in Iceland on “Hydrogen Production in Basalt-Hosted Hydrothermal Systems”.

The goal of this fieldwork is to understand the suitability of basaltic rock systems for supporting life. In particular, water reacts with basaltic rocks to release hydrogen gas through many processes on Earth. This production of hydrogen gas from water-rock interactions might be prevalent on extrasolar planets rich in water and could provide a source of energy for living beings. Because of its location along a mid-Atlantic oceanic ridge, Iceland is a prime example of this phenomenon on Earth, where diverse basalts and hydrothermal circulations create unique environments that can be quantified with habitability in mind. Dr. Som hopes to sample a wide range of basaltic types in Iceland in an effort to use the Earth as an analog for understanding the habitability of planetary systems.