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mysterious life of caves.docx

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Department
Life Sciences
Course
LIFESCI 2H03
Professor
Luc Bernier
Semester
Winter

Description
January 17 , 2013 Life Sci 2H03: Environmental Life Sciences Mysterious Life of Caves Carlsbad Caverns - coral reef transformed into limestone and raised above the ground - formed by rain and underground water - water flowed away leaving networks of underground chambers - gypsum blocks: formed by evaporation of water - gypsum chemically different from the plans: when sulphuric acid reacts with limestone it dissolves leaving gypsum behind - deposits of oil and gas nearby - hydrogen sulphide mixed deep in the oil fields - something living was eating the oil and producing hydrogen sulphide - microbes feeding on oil produce hydrogen sulphide which leaks up biding with hydrogen to form sulphuric acid, and dissolves the limestone creating the caves Lechugilla Caves - crystal gypsums - perhaps gypsum had washed into the caves from deposits nearby - deepest known cave in the United States and the worlds fourth longest - rich in chemicals: manganese, iron, sulphide and water - u-loops: could be fossilized bacteria - no longer being edged out by sulphuric acid - why the walls are decaling and covered by rust patches: other populations of organisms that can use other food sources that can be actively participating in the breakdown of this material - no sunlight, has only isolated pools, low nutrient environment - must be getting their energy by eating minerals in the rocks - lake is protected by outside pollutants - human presence posses threat to cave - when you overfeed organisms by giving them outside nutrients you can poison them or allow other organisms to proliferate - electron-microscopy - rock samples rich in mineral manganese: manganese eating bacteria produce acid that degrades the rock, as they pull the manganese they rock
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