Featured Image: Scientist Ceth Parker moving through a passageway within an iron formation cave. Photo courtesy of the University of Akron.
Paper: Enhanced terrestrial Fe(II) mobilization identified through a novel mechanism of microbially driven cave formation in Fe(III)-rich rocks
Authors: Ceth W. Parker, John M. Senko, Augusto S. Auler, Ira D. Sasowsky, Frederik Schulz, Tanja Woyke, Hazel A. Barton
Consider this: microscopic creatures literally moving tons of rock before your very eyes. It seems too fantastical, but maybe not if you’re in the Brazilian tropics. In new work, scientists have detailed these stealthy and microscopic processes, naming a new cave generation pathway called exothenic biospeleogenesis, or “behind-wall life-created” caves.
Continue reading “Microscopic Miners: How invisible forces create tropical caves”
Featured image: Processed satellite images showing a milky sea event and its components in Java, 2019. From Miller et al, 2021 (figure 5).
Paper: Miller, S.D., Haddock, S.H.D., Straka, W.C. et al. Honing in on bioluminescent milky seas from space. Sci Rep 11, 15443 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-94823-z
Sailors see a lot of, well, stuff while they’re far from land. And they’re known for telling unbelievable tales, some of which later turn out to be more or less true. Milky seas are one of those: a horizon-to-horizon sea that glows white like the snow in the moonlight. In a 2021 paper, Dr. Steven Miller of Colorado State University and colleagues used satellites to look for these systems in hopes of understanding how and why these glowing patches form.
The first satellite detection of a milky sea event was also the work of Dr. Miller, in a 2005 paper that detected just a single event by combing ships’ logs and satellite archives from the preceding decade. Now, Miller’s research team has refined the algorithm that he’d previously developed for modern satellite records. Today’s satellite technology is better able to ‘see’ these events due to higher resolution of their images and can pick out the bioluminescent glow of microbes in the ocean better than the last generation of satellites.
Continue reading “One Sailors’ Legend Down, Many More To Go – Multiple Milky Sea Events Detected by Satellite”
Featured Image: Rio Bermejo meeting up with the Paraguay River, on the boarder of Formosa and Chaco Provinces. Image by Mapio. Used with permision.
Paper: Fluvial organic carbon cycling regulated by sediment transit time and mineral protection
Authors: Marisa Repasch, Joel S. Scheingross, Niels Hovius, Maarten Lupker, Hella Wittmann, Negar Haghipour, Darren R. Gröcke, Oscar Orfeo, Timothy I. Eglinton, and Dirk Sachse
In our current era of rapid climate change, it is critical we understand how every aspect of the Earth system affects carbon cycling. New work by Marisa Repasch and colleagues shows that rivers, under the right conditions, might be able to sequester more carbon in the sediments than released into the atmosphere. However, these findings may reveal how human impacts to rivers will likely increase the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere.
Continue reading “The surprising effects rivers have on our atmosphere”
Featured Image: Murky pond in Alaska with “rusty” iron-filled sediments. Image courtesy Jessica Buser. Used with permission.
Paper: Sulfate- and iron-dependent anaerobic methane oxidation occurring side-by-side in freshwater lake sediment
Authors: Alina Mostovaya, Michael Wind-Hansen, Paul Rousteau, Laura A. Bristow, Bo Thamdrup
The table has been set and the food is all prepared. But this is no ordinary dinner party, it’s a microbe party! The guests sit down and proceed to dig into the main course; sulfur, rusty iron, and methane. Curiously, the guests are feeding each other, not themselves! This image seems pretty weird to us humans, but it’s a delight to these microbes. This collaborative method of eating occurs in pond and lake mud all around the world. In a new study, Mostovaya and colleagues describe one such feast in Danish Lake Ørn, that is not only collaborative but may mitigate climate change.
Continue reading “Metal-Eating Microbes Who Breathe Methane”
Featured Image: Larch trees. Image courtesy North Cascades National Park, used with permission.
Paper: Spring arctic oscillation as a trigger of summer drought in Siberian subarctic over the past 1494 years
Authors: Olga V. Churakova Sidorova, Rolf T. W. Siegwolf, Marina V. Fonti, Eugene A. Vaganov, Matthias Saurer
Seemingly straight out of a fairytale, ancient trees are able to convey details about Earth’s complex history to the scientists willing and able to listen. Deep in the Siberian Arctic lie the secrets of past weather events, ocean currents, and droughts that occurred thousands of years ago, locked away in petrified wood and in the oldest living larch trees. We often hear in the news how the Siberian forest is victim to extreme drought and fire—something that is new as of the recent century. But how “new” are these events, and what exactly is perpetuating this new cycle?
Continue reading “Ancient trees tell the story of modern climate change”
Featured image: Gravel and rocks crushed by the Greenland Ice Sheet. Image courtesy PennStateNews, used with permission.
Paper: Large subglacial source of mercury from the southwestern margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Authors: Jon R. Hawkings, Benjamin S. Linhoff, Jemma L. Wadham, Marek Stibal, Carl H. Lamborg, Gregory T. Carling, Guillaume Lamarche-Gagnon, Tyler J. Kohler, Rachael Ward, Katharine R. Hendry, Lukáš Falteisek, Anne M. Kellerman, Karen A. Cameron, Jade E. Hatton, Sarah Tingey, Amy D. Holt, Petra Vinšová, Stefan Hofer, Marie Bulínová, Tomáš Větrovský, Lorenz Meire, Robert G. M. Spencer
The Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at an astounding rate as our planet continues to warm. Mercury levels in the glacial meltwater traveling into the ocean are the highest levels ever measured in natural systems and rival heavily polluted rivers in Asia. By measuring and tracing mercury in the meltwater, Hawkings and coworkers estimated that the Greenland Ice Sheet contributes up to 10% of all mercury found in Earth’s Oceans today. Where is this mercury coming from within the Greenland Ice Sheet? It is not actually coming from the ice itself, but rather the rocks that have been crushed under the immense weight of the Ice Sheet over thousands of years.
Continue reading “Mercury on the Move”
Featured Image: Iceberg floating through thin sea ice. Image courtesy NASA ICE, used with permission.
Paper: Glacial melt disturbance shifts community metabolism of an Antarctic seafloor ecosystem from net autotrophy to heterotrophy
Authors: Ulrike Braeckman, Francesca Pasotti, Ralf Hoffmann, Susana Vázquez, Angela Wulff, Irene R. Schloss, Ulrike Falk, Dolores Deregibus, Nene Lefaible, Anders Torstensson, Adil Al-Handal, Frank Wenzhöfer, Ann Vanreusel
Nothing compares to the ethereal beauty of a clear lake. Looking down, you can see a whole world flourishing below: plants, fish, and critters. Compare that to a cloudy, or turbid, lake and suddenly you may feel very small, worried about what’s lurking beneath you. New research shows that the Antarctic ocean is transitioning from clear to turbid water, with big implications for ocean ecosystems.
Continue reading “Antarctic seafloor oxygen is diminishing–and glaciers may be to blame”
Featured Image: Shewanella putrefaciens CN-32 (a microbe capable of eating iron) on hematite (a rock containing iron). Image courtesy Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL). Used with permission.
Paper: Organic matter mineralization in modern and ancient ferruginous sediments
Authors: André Friese, Kohen Bauer, Clemens Glombitza, Luis Ordoñez, Daniel Ariztegui Verena B. Heuer, Aurèle Vuillemin, Cynthia Henny, Sulung Nomosatryo, Rachel Simister Dirk Wagner, Satria Bijaksana, Hendrik Vogel, Martin Melles, James M. Russell, Sean A. Crowe, Jens Kallmeyer
Just as a crow may use a rock to crack a nut, certain microbes can use solid iron to crack open methane. This consumption limits the amount of methane lost from lakes into the atmosphere, making it a crucial process in mitigating production of greenhouse gasses. These microbes are abundant in freshwater sediments, and their specialized mechanism for cracking open methane is most likely one of the oldest metabolisms on Earth, providing a modern-day window into the past.
Continue reading “Rust to the Rescue?”
Paper: Astronomical context of solar system formation from molybdenum isotopes in meteorite inclusions.
Featured image: Artistic impression of the protoplanetary disk. Image used with permission from Wikipedia (A. Angelich).
Authors: Gregory A. Brennecka, Christoph Burkhardt, Gerrit Budde, Thomas S. Kruijer, Francis Nimmo, Thorsten Kleine.
If you ask a cosmochemist what the oldest objects in the solar system are, they will swiftly answer the Calcium Aluminium Inclusions (CAIs), a small light-coloured inclusion within primitive meteorites known as Chondrites (see figure 2C). However, if you ask what event in the solar system evolution CAIs correspond to, it is a more challenging question. Previously, CAI formation was associated with the various evolutionary stages of our Sun. However, as the timescale of evolution of Sun, calculated to be around 1 million years by observing Sun like stars, is longer than the CAI forming period (~ 40,000 – 200,000 years), the association between CAI formation and the early stages of our Sun is not always clear. In a quest to put the CAI formation in an astronomical context, a recent study from Brennecka et al. analysed CAIs present within various Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites and linked the CAI formation to a specific stage in the Sun’s evolution.
Continue reading “Capturing Early Sun within meteorite inclusions”
Paper: Earth’s water may have been inherited from material similar to enstatite chondrite meteorites
Authors: Laurette Piani, Yves Marrocchi, Thomas Rigaudier, Linel G. Vacher, Dorian Thomassin, Bernard Marty
To date, Earth is the only planetary object known to have extensive bodies of liquid water (H2O) at its surface. Water is fundamental to supporting life as we know it with every single organism on our planet requiring water to survive. Even our own human bodies are made up of 60-70% water. However, the origin of Earth’s water has long been debated.
Continue reading “Tracing the origin of Earth’s water with meteorites”