A University of Wyoming husband-and-wife research team was part of a larger group that has made the first significant recovery of layered igneous rocks from the Earth’s lowest ocean crust.

The discovery -- found in the “Hess Deep Rift” in the Pacific Ocean -- confirms a long-held belief among geologists that such rocks are a key part of the lower ocean crust formed at fast-spreading ridges.

Michael Cheadle, an associate professor, and Professor Barbara John, both in UW’s Department of Geology and Geophysics, are two co-writers (30 in all) of a research paper, titled “Primitive Layered Gabbros from Fast-Spreading Lower Oceanic Crust,” published in the new issue of Nature.

The two were part of a 26-member international research team that sailed to the Hess Deep, a deep scar in the Pacific Ocean’s sea floor, between December 2012 and January 2013. Their mission was to study rocks sampled about 3-4 kilometers below the sea floor in an effort to better understand how the Earth’s crust is formed.