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Scientists Find 8 New Species in Underground Cave

  1. Jun 1, 2006 #1
    Does anyone know how such ecosystems can sustain themselves? I mean there is no sunlight, no hydrothermal vents, and the whole system is sealed of from the surface by a "thick layer of chalk that was impenetrable to water or exterior nutrients."
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  3. Jun 2, 2006 #2
    Actually caves are dug by water and water continuously digs a cave (I'm talking about Carlsbad at least as I do not know if this specific cave recieves water, I assume it does) and nutriets are intoduced as rock dissolve. I think, if I remember correctly, the ecosystem is based on the bacteria that live in the water and feed on these dissolved minerals.
  4. Jun 2, 2006 #3
    What types of minerals are disolved into the water?
  5. Jun 2, 2006 #4


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    ..and where does the free energy come from?
  6. Jun 2, 2006 #5
    Whatever minerals found in the cave, in Carlsbad it was a ton of calcium.

    Here's the official site of Carlsbad Caverns, a place definitely worth seeing in person: http://www.nps.gov/cave/

    I don't know how they get their energy but I'm sure that all depends on the bacteria. There is bacteria everywhere, even under extreme and nonsensicle conditions.
  7. Jun 2, 2006 #6
    Your typical awful science journalism, leaves you dazed and confused.

    Here's a possible clue:
    Which suggests mechanisms like
    found in
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_smokers (volcanic ocean vents)
  8. Jun 2, 2006 #7


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    What do you mean, the free energy comes from the oxidation of (in)organic compounds.

    There are different kinds of chemotrophy:
    chemoautotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of reduced inorganic compounds or elements and obtains carbon from carbon dioxide.
    chemolithotroph- Organism that obtains energy from the oxidation of inorganic compounds and uses inorganic compounds as electron donors.
    chemoheterotroph- Organism that obtains energy and carbon from the oxidation of organic compounds (we humans).
    chemoorganotroph- Organism that obtains energy and electrons (reducing power) from the oxidation of organic compounds.
  9. Jun 2, 2006 #8
    I'm sure that we'll find out more about this in time.
  10. Jun 2, 2006 #9


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    Sure, but the cave was awfully close to a closed sytem, at least as reported. Sooner or later everything oxidizable is in oxide, no?
  11. Jun 2, 2006 #10


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    Just to clarify, are they seriously suggesting the whole cycle (including nutrients) is a closed system, or are they merely suggesting that the living part of the ecosystem is closed?

    The former would be very hard to prove. Certainly in these early stages, I don't see how they could state it as any more than speculation.
  12. Jun 3, 2006 #11
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