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Cold case: Siberian hot springs reveal ancient ecology
Date:4/26/2011

ty would've been exposed to higher carbon monoxide concentrations and would've had to develop strategies for coping with the high concentrations because of their toxicity," Colman says. Colman and UChicago graduate student Bo He have conducted fieldwork in both Uzon and California's Lassen Volcanic National Park. Colman has most recently journeyed to Kamchatka for additional fieldwork in 2007 and 2010.

"This fantastic field site has a wide variety of hot springs," he says. "Different colors, temperatures, chemistries, different types of micro-organisms living in them. It's a lot like Yellowstone in certain respects."

Lassen's springs have a narrower range of acidic chemistries, yet microbial production of carbon monoxide appears to be widespread in both settings.

Collaborator Frank Robb of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, lauds Colman for his "boundless enthusiasm" and for his "meticulous preparation," much-needed qualities to ensure the safe transport of delicate instruments into the field.

Some of the microbial life within the caldera's complex hydrothermal system may survive in even more extreme settings than scientists have observed at the surface, Colman says.

"One thing we really don't know very well is the extent to which microbial communities beneath the surface influence what we see at the surface, but that's possible as well," Colman says.

"We know from culturing deep-sea vent microbes that they can live at temperatures that exceed the temperatures we're observing right at the surface, and some of the turn out to metabolize carbon monoxide."


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Contact: Steve Koppes
skoppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert  

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