Coming Events


A Window on Dark Life

Friday, December 10, 2021

ZOOM webinar

Mike Taylor

Deep within an incompletely explored cave system in central Tennessee lies a shallow pool that cavers call “the Petroleum Passage,” because of both its strong smell and floating “tarballs” that rise from black “tar patches” on the sandy floor. Rather than a sign of pollution, this ancient, molecularly degraded petroleum emerges from deep within the Earth. It carries unusual microbes that appear to support a large population of cave insects and salamanders, creating a food chain based on chemical nutrients rising from below–rather than the familiar sunlight and photosynthesis of the surface world.

A research team co-led by new chapter member Michael Ray Taylor, FN 21, has discovered hundreds of strange species within this passage, including organisms previously found only in deep hydrothermal vents of the Pacific Ocean, in Antarctica’s Lake Vostok (beneath kilometers of polar ice), and emerging from volcanic hot springs. How did life from such diverse places wind up in Middle Tennessee? The answer, Taylor believes, may be a deep global biosphere, home to the most ancient life on Earth and a model for life that may exist today beneath the surfaces of Mars and the moons of Jupiter.

Michael Ray Taylor, a fellow of the National Speleology Society as well as The Explorers Club, is the author of Hidden NatureDark LifeCaves, and other nonfiction books. He has written about science and exploration for The New York TimesSports IllustratedHouston ChronicleWiredNOVA, and many other print and digital publications. He chairs the Communication and Theatre Arts department at Henderson State University in Arkansas. Although a journalist and nature writer, his personal enthusiasm for underground life has led him to collaborate with scientists from NASA and other major research centers in a variety of published scientific articles.

a tube of the oily water in the Petroleum Passage
One of the tar patches
a Nashville caver named Hal Love sampling microbes


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Annual Meeting
Monday, May 23, 2022

Guests are Welcome

Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing

6390 Grafton Ferry Road
Portage des Sioux
St Charles County 63373

4:00  ride in a B-25 or Avenger reservation will be required
5:00 Tour WWll museum 
5:30 members meeting announce new board
6:30 dinner & speaker in WWll hangar

Missey Condie & Lotsie Holton, co-chairs annual meeting/dinner

Contact Us

The Explorers Club Saint Louis
c/o Cynthia Peters
8423 Kingsbury Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105


Thomas Schlafly, Co-Chair