Friday, September 25, 2009

"Studies of simpler and more stable systems make it easier to observe patterns that may influence the way we think about more complex systems."

If you were ever curious about how certain bacteria survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene global extinction (extinction of the dinosaurs) read the following:
Astrobiology, vol. 9, Number 6, 2009, Harriet Jones, et al., Experiments on Mixotrophic Protists and Catastrophic Darkness.
In this paper several experiments were done to test the effect that 6 months of darkness and exposure to controlled amounts of DOC would do to mixotrophic bacteria. Turns out, they eat each other's dead bodies in order to survive. I am trying to imagine what a human would do if it was locked up with controlled nutrients with 1000's of other humans in the dark for 6 months... and I'm thinking "Zombies"? I guess we are not too far from the root of the tree, huh?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

YSI Sonde

Two weeks ago I deployed two YSI sondes into the travertine mound spring located at the northern most point of the Tierra Amarilla anitcline. I left the instruments in the springs for three days. They recorded measurements of DO, pH, temperature, and conductivity every 2 minutes; one at 1m depth and the other at 5m depth. The goal for our research is to synchronously measure all parameters in these springs to hopefully predict what and how these springs are altered by climate and/or seismic events. In order to properly assess the data that I have from the Sonde deployments I need to incorporate diel cycling, hydrologic cycling, and maybe lunar cycling. I have a link to the GOSA wesite. The paper I'm currently reading refers to temperature measurements that were taken from Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park with an instrument similar to ours. It was found that GEIs are lengthened when the water discharge is low. They also conclude that the GEIs are effected not only by the water that is provided by the warm subsurface, but also by the colder water that is provided by the geyser surface. The GOSA link is also an interesting link for anyone who wants to know more about how geysers work:
Also, here is a link to the USGS real-time water data for Firehole River: measurements include temperature fluctuations and discharge rates.
I might be able to use these data for an interpretation for my 1m vs. 5m depth measurements. So far it look as though the 1m depth water is retaining surface and subsurface water (recycling the water before discharging it to the outside of the mound), whereas the 5m depth water is constantly refueling from the subsurface. Or at least this is what I hypothesize.