Microbes on Earth may be key to identifying life on other planets

Evidence of life in Martian meteorites or future rock samples from the Red Planet may be easier to identify thanks to microbes living in hot springs at Yellowstone National Park.

"The existence of life itself can change the physical and chemical attributes in an environment of deposition," said Bruce Fouke, a geologist at the University of Illinois. "By studying the effects of microbial metabolism on the chemistry of the water and on the way minerals are deposited in Earth environments, we can better interpret samples from other planets for signs of life."

For example, various carbonate features -- including tiny, rod-shaped calcite crystals -- found in the Martian meteorite ALH84001 could have been formed by either organic or inorganic means. To help interpret whether such shapes are indicative of life, Fouke has established a systematic model for the deposition of travertine by actively flowing hot springs at Angel Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs.

"Travertine is a crystalline form of calcite that forms where subsurface waters erupt, cool, de-gas and precipitate calcium-carbonate minerals with a variety of crystal morphologies and chemical compositions," Fouke said. "In this setting, we are examining the environmental feedback mechanisms that exist between water, microbes and the precipitation of travertine."

Mammoth Hot Springs, near the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, is one of the world's largest sites of travertine accumulation. The travertine deposits at Mammoth Hot Springs are approximately 8,000 years old, 73 meters thick and cover more than 4 square kilometers.

"Yellowstone is an ideal laboratory because of the high precipitation rates and the abundance of microbes," Fouke said. "By documenting where we find certain calcite shapes in the spring system, we can link those shapes with a particular water flow, chemistry and microbe. With that environmental context, we can start to decipher the geological record and to rec

Contact: James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Page: 1 2

Related biology news :

1. Microbes eat their way to better concrete
2. Microbes found in Mayan ruins may deteriorate stone from inside out
3. Microbes active in Colorado snows fuel tundra ecosystem
4. Microbes blueprints promise insights into oceans, more
5. Microbes related to infant lung infections reduced using specialized ventilation system device
6. Microbes and the dust they ride in on pose potential health risks
7. "Microbes deep within South African gold mines" subject of NSF lecture
8. Microbes make mine-waste drinkable, Science researchers report
9. Microbes in basalt thrive on mixed diet of toxic waste
10. Microbes work magic on hazardous air pollutants
11. Chemical Reaction Believed To Support Underground Microbes Is Now Unlikely

Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/29/2015)...  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar , ... health and wellness, and the business opportunities that arise ... Internet of Healthy Things . Long before health ... Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, was ... care from the hospital or doctor,s office into the ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... , Oct. 27, 2015 Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announced that Google has adopted the Synaptics ® ... solutions to power its newest flagship smartphones, the Nexus ... --> --> ... to provide strategic collaboration in the joint development of ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... and GOLETA, California , October ... conference, BIOPAC and SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) announce a mobile ... tracking data captured during interactive real-world tasks ... play integration of their established wearable solutions for eye ... synchronize gaze behavior captured with SMI Eye Tracking ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... November 24, 2015 --> ... research report released by Transparency Market Research, the global ... a CAGR of 17.5% during the period between 2014 ... - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, Trends ... prenatal testing market to reach a valuation of US$2.38 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or 1,100,000 pre-share ... "Series B Warrants") subject to the previously disclosed ... 23, 2015, which will result in the issuance ... to the issuance of such shares, there will ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... and the environment are paramount. Insertion points for in-line sensors can represent a ... developed the InTrac 781/784 series of retractable sensor housings , which are ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Creation Technologies ... being named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of the fastest growing ... a FDA-cleared, Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic tooth movement by ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: