Antarctic Blog 2013


photograph © 2013 Lorena Lagos Pailla and Leticia Barrientos

Day 12: Volcanic ash bands on Collins Glacier and extremophiles isolated in Antarctica reduce tellurite to elemental tellurium (2.3.2013)

We talked to Dr. Ricardo Jaña (INACH) about the prominent bands of dust deposits we saw in the face of the glacier we photographed on Day 9 at Collins Glacier (see above and photograph below). He suggested that the bands were probably particle and ash deposits from volcanic eruptions, maybe from nearby Deception Island, only120 km SSW.


Volcanic ash band in Collins Glacier
Presumed volcanic ash bands on Collins Glacier


The enrichment experiments are moving apace with individual colonies that are Te-resistant showing up in inocula from a sample (left photo) taken at the Bernado O'Higgins base site (see Day 5). The soil sample (D5) was collected in a rocky hole that remained after an abandoned piece of heavy earth moving equipment was uncovered and removed during base renovations (see Antarctic Treaty discussion above in Day 11). No one was sure when the heavy equipment had failed and been buried.

On the right plate below is an inoculum from Sample B9 was from soil taken under the Antarctic grass called Deschampsia on a grassy slope on Punta Hanna.

The two plate shots below show gray, elemental tellurium (Te0) produced by Te-resistant bugs growing on 50 µg/mL tellurite-augmented agar. And yes Ms. Lopez just like I tell you, the photographs aren't bright enough. Sorry.

Enrichment plate
Enrichment plate
Tellurium-resistant bacterial colonies on a Petri dish
Sample D5 was taken from an excavation at the Bernado O'Higgins base
where an abandoned piece of equipment had been dug up and removed.
Tellurium-resistant bacterial colonies on a Petri dish

JP and Daniel Valenzuela (from Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile) took sediment samples from two more (apparently) hydrocarbon-contaminated sites this afternoon. One was again, near the airport, and the other 250 m away, an apparent site where garbage, specifically a mattress had been burned recently.

Airport river site
Garbage Site
Sampling hydrocarbon-contaminated runoff near the King George Island airport
Sampling standing water where mattresses had been abandoned
near the King George Island airport


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