Extremities:  Geology and Life in Yellowstone and Implications for Other Worlds

OCTOPUS SPRING - 3 - Sampling

With permission from the National Park Service, Dr. Ward collected a small sample of an Octopus Spring microbial mat for us to use later in his laboratory.




Octopus Springs from the south, with the deep hot pools in the distance. The mat we sampled is just to the left (west) of the mid-left edge of this view.


Maggie measures water temperature with her techie hand-held gadget, which measures how much thermal infrared light the water emits. In these wavelengths (> 5 micrometers) light emitted by objects (like hot water) is much brighter than sunlight. The temperature was 60°C.







Dr. Marcel van der Meer, post-doctoral researcher working with Dr. Ward , samples the water to analyze its chemistry. Its pH was 8 (using a pH meter), and it contains almost no sulfur (from a color-changing reagent).


Dr. Ward samples the microbial mat with a spatula. The white rectangle, the scar where the sample was, is spring-deposited silica. The top green layer community is dominated by the cyanobacterium Synechococcus; the bottom pink layer community is dominated by the 'green' non-sulfur bacterium Chloroflexus. We took this sample back to Dr. Ward's lab for microscopy and reflectance spectroscopy.

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Updated 11/15/02.
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