October 3, 2017
September 11, 2017
July 6, 2017
July 11, 2016
Probably most people would not include the photos in this week’s post under a Home Sweet Home title. However . . . Yesterday I walked around the grounds of our new place and found some lovely bacteria. I could detect what they were doing before I saw the results. The filamentous white stuff is the product of one or more sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, and I could smell the SO2. I found sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in the Vermilion River in September 2014. The pink bits here are young root shoots. The second and third photos are crops from the first photograph.
Update of July 14, 2016
Today I showed these photos to my mentor, Norrie Robbins. Here’s what she had to say: “You lucky—a sulfur cycle! Watch during the year: does it abate in the winter (does the groundwater become oxygenated?). . . The strings are [produced by] Thiothrix (they have holdfasts). If you just see a white biofilm, it is [created by] Beggiatoa (under the scope they move around). In your image I think I see a little purple (purple sulfur oxidizers are strict anaerobes and need sunlight).”
October 21, 2014
I saw something at the edge of the river Saturday, September 27, that I’d never seen before. Checking my hunch with Norrie Robbins, my knowledge source for all things microbial, I learned that this white threadlike formation is evidence of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. The black stuff around the edges shows the presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria. Since the shale in this area is replete with pyrite (fool’s gold), and pyrite is made of iron and sulfur, it should not have been a surprise.
October 19, 2014
October 18, 2014
October 17, 2014
The Yellow Boy story (see previous post) is not all bad, though. Some companies are addressing the problem by reclaiming the iron oxide with a process known as bioremediation The process cleans the site and gives the company or affiliated companies a substance that they then sell as pigment for concrete pavers and other applications. . . . The boulder sitting atop the shale in this photograph is granite, a glacial erratic brought down from Thunder Bay or points north by the last glacier in this area.
October 16, 2014
Such quantity (see yesterday’s post) of iron oxide is not a problem in the Vermilion River. The next rain dispersed and swept these flocs downriver into Lake Erie, where it is never—as far as I know—a problem either. Where it is a problem is in Appalachia and the West, where poor mining practices leave this or related material in place or in small streams where it smothers vegetation. There they call stuff like this acid mine drainage or Yellow Boy I’ve never seen these mining sites, but I have the feeling that I would not find them as attractive as what I see along the beautiful Vermilion River. . . . If you’ve been receiving my photographs for very long, you know that this rock slab is shale.
October 15, 2014
Enamored as I am with Leptothrix discophora films, I also get a kick out of the rusty deposits (flocs) that the iron bacteria precipitate out of the water. On the same day that I found the prismatic films whose photographs I have been posting these two weeks, I was negotiating a somewhat treacherous part of slanted riverbank. I had my eyes and total concentration on my feet and walking stick. As soon as I felt safe, I looked up and heard my breath leave my body in an involuntary gasp. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a large swath of flocs. While some flocs sat directly on the shale, others coated filamentous or puffy bits of algae. The first photo shows a detail; the second is a composite of the complete expanse. To me, it was a beautiful sight.