I'd like to introduce you to Rochelle Pereira. Here she is, explaining the salinity experiment that her, Eckhardt Karsten and Brad Krzysiak have been working on while we've been here at Lake Bonney:
With Blood Falls dumping iron brine into Lake Bonney, how does it change the microbial community? Which microbes thrive when the water gets more or less saline (salty) from the brine? If the lake gets deeper and the salinity levels shift, which microbes are favored to survive?
In the graph above, you can see that right around a depth of 15-20 meters, there's a sharp rise in conductivity, which means that its getting really salty. Then again, at 22 meters there's another increase in salinity/conductivity. We think this is due to the influx of briny water from Blood Falls.
In the rest of the world, lakes are influenced by so many different factors like rainfall and pollutants so it's hard to tell which factor is changing the microbial community. Here, the microbes are so isolated that its easier to tell how they are affected by one thing, like salinity.
Most of the analysis of the experimental results will occur in the months ahead at Miami University in Ohio. For now, Rochelle, Eckhardt and Brad take measurements, filter water samples, and preserve specimens for later work in more well-equipped labs.