Workshop and discussion in the caves of Sardinia: Extraterrestrial Subsurface Exploration

Extraterrestrial Subsurface Exploration and Geomicrobiology


Workshop, discussions, and study in the caves of Sardinia


The exploration of extraterrestrial subsurface environments is one of the major modern challenges in space exploration. This second Geobiology in Space Exploration (GESE) workshop will build on the first GESE workshop held in Marrakech in 2011 and will be based in the town of Iglesias, Sardinia, from 25-28th May 2015. This workshop will explore strategies and approaches to the subsurface exploration of other planetary environments, and the geomicrobiology of such habitats.  The surrounding region has a large number of diverse mine and cave networks have a range of speleothem, microbial, and mineral features for geomicrobiological research.


The first two days of the workshop will involve presentations, round table discussions and poster sessions in the conference facilities of the University of Sulcis Iglesiente, with abstracts invited from the following themes:


  • Subsurface exploration
  • Instruments for extraterrestrial subsurface exploration
  • ISS Experiments and radiation geobiology
  • Mineral-microbe interactions
  • Biogeochemical cycling of bioessential elements – on Earth and in Space
  • Geobiology and heavy metals/toxicity
  • Cave and subsurface geomicrobiology and biosignatures


The following two days will involve field excursions to the three following sites:  Is Zuddas Cave, Su Zurfuru Mine and Su Mannau Cave.


These sites have a variety of microbial environments, “moonmilk”, mineral deposits on the rock surface below wall seeps, unusual sulphate deposits, and active hydrological and sedimentary systems. These will be educational and informative trips, with some brief opportunities for sampling. Please note we recommend sturdy footwear/walking boots for all cave tours. On Saturday and Sunday before the workshop sampling trips for up to 6 people can be arranged to the Corona ‘e sa Craba cave (quartzite cave) and Sa Marchesa mine (Pb-Zn-Fe mine). If anyone is interested in sampling at these sites before the start of the workshop please contact Professor Jo De Waele ( to arrange this.


The cost of attendance is €450 which includes accommodation, lunch, workshop dinner, and all excursions during the workshop. To attend please register by clicking this link and submit an abstract (no longer than 200 words) for oral or poster presentation to Toby Samuels ( by March 30th.



This meeting is co-organized between the ESA Topical team GESE (Geobiology in Space Exploration), the UK Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh, and academics at the Italian Institute of Speleology at the University of Bologna and the University of Sulcis Iglesiente, with additional support from members of the Geomining Park in Sardinia.



Teachers – Apply for the 2015 Astrobiology Summer Academy!

The UKCA’s Astrobiology Summer Academy is an initiative to develop lesson plans for schools in the UK that use the excitement and interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology to advance science teaching.


The Centre is making an ‘Astrobiology Lesson Plan’ collection which is available on TES Resources where teachers can access these lesson plans. Fourteen of them were written by teacher attendees of the 2014 ASA.


The lesson plans include a rock cycle you can illustrate with chocolate, lessons on extremophiles, Mars exploration and lesson plans about extinction and human impacts on the Earth.



The Astrobiology Summer Academy will run in 2015 (July 12-15th) and if you know of any teachers interested in contributing to this effort and attending the ASA to learn about astrobiology in an informal setting, let them know about ASA 2015!


You can see more information about the academy on our web site: