Organic geochemistry and mineralogy suggest anthropogenic impact in speleothem chemistry from volcanic show caves of the Galapagos

Año Publicación:  2022
detalles
Responsable: A. Z. Miller et al.
Journal, Volumen y páginas:
Volume 25, Issue 7, 104556

Autores

A. Z. Miller, N. T. Jiménez-Morillo, M. Larsson-Coutinho, F. Gázquez, V. Palma, et al.

Abstract

The network of lava tubes is one of the most unexploited natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands. Here, we provide the first morphological, mineralogical, and biogeochemical assessment of speleothems from volcanic caves of the Galapagos to understand their structure, composition, and origin, as well as to identify organic molecules preserved in speleothems. Mineralogical analyses revealed that moonmilk and coralloid speleothems from Bellavista and Royal Palm Caves were composed of calcite, opal-A and minor amounts of clay minerals. Extracellular polymeric substances, fossilized bacteria, silica microspheres and cell imprints on siliceous minerals evidenced microbe-mineral interactions and biologically-mediated silica precipitation. Alternating depositional layers between siliceous and carbonate minerals and the detection of biomarkers of surface vegetation and anthropogenic stressors indicated environmental and anthropogenic changes (agriculture, human waste, cave visits) on these unique underground resources. Stable isotope analysis and Py-GC/MS were key to robustly identify biomarkers, allowing for implementation of future protection policies.

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