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Geochemistry of cave pools in the Guadalupe Mountains, NM : implications for geomicrobiology

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/17435

Geochemistry of cave pools in the Guadalupe Mountains, NM : implications for geomicrobiology

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Title: Geochemistry of cave pools in the Guadalupe Mountains, NM : implications for geomicrobiology
Author: Ara, Kooser
Advisor(s): Crossey, Laura
Committee Member(s): Brearley, Adrian
Spilde, Mike
Northup, Diana
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Subject(s): cave pools
Gaudalupe Mountains
Lechuguilla
Carlsbad Cavern
Geochemistry
Geomicrobiology
LC Subject(s): Cave ecology--Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.)
Microbial ecology--Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.)
Water chemistry--Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.)
Geochemistry--Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.)
Geomicrobiology--Guadalupe Mountains (N.M. and Tex.)
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: The study of the chemistry of waters in cave pools in the Guadalupe Mountains, NM was conducted to determine the variation in cave pool water geochemistry, explain hydrogeologic variations in a geologic context, identify the processes that control cave pool hydrologic variations and determine geochemical controls on modern and paleo-bacterial communities. Structural studies indicate cave pools align along NE and NW structures in the karst system. The intersection of Permian structures and Cenozoic related structures provide pathways for infiltrating water. Water samples were collected from 19 new cave pools; the results were integrated with published geochemistry from 192 cave pools, aquifer samples, and surface sites. The waters were analyzed for major and minor ions, modeled to explain flow paths, connected with structural data, examined for thermodynamic potential to support metabolic reactions, and to elucidate the relationship between current geochemistry and presence of biothems (biogenically mediated speleothems, including pool fingers). Infiltrating waters dominant the character of the cave pool waters. Variations in geochemistry of the cave pools can be explained by several geochemical processes: 1) infiltrating water-rock interactions 2) outgassing of CO2 3) precipitation of minerals and 4) evaporation. The thermodynamic data of available energy for use by microbial communities predicted the potential for nitrate, nitrite, oxygen, and sulfate to be used as terminal electron acceptors. The geochemical trends of pools containing biothems showed no connection between pool geochemistry and the presence of biothems. The small number of processes governing the variation in geochemistry give rise to a complex, unique geochemical signature and history for each cave pool thus unique microbial communities.
Graduation Date: December 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/17435

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