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Published May 30, 1969 | public
Journal Article

Sterile Soil from Antarctica: Organic Analysis


Soils from the dry-valley region of Antarctica can be sterile by the usual microbiological criteria and yet contain significant amounts of organic carbon. Examination of one such soil shows that the organic material is finely divided anthracite coal. These findings have significant implications for the biological exploration of Mars.

Additional Information

© 1969 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 15 November 1968; revised 3 March 1969. This paper presents the results of one phase of research carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under NASA contract No. NAS 7-100. Logistic support and facilities for the Antarctic part of this study were provided by the NSF Office of Antarctic Programs. We thank S. Epstein for measurements of the carbon isotopes.

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