Río Tinto: A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars

Ricardo Amils, David Fernández-Remolar, Victor Parro, José Antonio Rodríguez-Manfredi, Monike Oggerin, Mónica Sánchez-Román, Francisco J. López, José Pablo Fernández-Rodríguez, Fernando Puente-Sánchez, Carlos Briones, Olga Prieto-Ballesteros, Fernando Tornos, Felipe Gómez, Miriam García-Villadangos, Nuria Rodríguez, Enoma Omoregie, Kenneth Timmis, Alejandro Arce, José Luis Sanz, David Gómez-Ortiz & 1 others IPBSL Team

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The geomicrobiological characterization of the water column and sediments of Río Tinto (Huelva, Southwestern Spain) have proven the importance of the iron and the sulfur cycles, not only in generating the extreme conditions of the habitat (low pH, high concentration of toxic heavy metals), but also in maintaining the high level of microbial diversity detected in the basin. It has been proven that the extreme acidic conditions of Río Tinto basin are not the product of 5000 years of mining activity in the area, but the consequence of an active underground bioreactor that obtains its energy from the massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Two drilling projects, MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) (2003–2006) and IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life Detection) (2011–2015), were developed and carried out to provide evidence of subsurface microbial activity and the potential resources that support these activities. The reduced substrates and the oxidants that drive the system appear to come from the rock matrix. These resources need only groundwater to launch diverse microbial metabolisms. The similarities between the vast sulfate and iron oxide deposits on Mars and the main sulfide bioleaching products found in the Tinto basin have given Río Tinto the status of a geochemical and mineralogical Mars terrestrial analogue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-534
Number of pages24
JournalLife
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2014

Fingerprint

Mars
mars
belts (equipment)
Astrobiology
pyrites
basins
analogs
Bioleaching
Poisons
pyrite
resources
Exobiology
Sulfides
Heavy Metals
Bioreactors
Sulfur
Oxidants
Metabolism
basin
Sulfates

Keywords

  • Acidophiles
  • Iberian pyrite belt
  • Iron cycle
  • Iron minerals
  • Iron oxidation
  • Jarosite
  • Mars
  • Metal sulfides
  • Río tinto
  • Sulfur cycle

Cite this

Amils, R., Fernández-Remolar, D., Parro, V., Rodríguez-Manfredi, J. A., Oggerin, M., Sánchez-Román, M., ... IPBSL Team (2014). Río Tinto: A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars. Life, 4(3), 511-534. https://doi.org/10.3390/life4030511
Amils, Ricardo ; Fernández-Remolar, David ; Parro, Victor ; Rodríguez-Manfredi, José Antonio ; Oggerin, Monike ; Sánchez-Román, Mónica ; López, Francisco J. ; Fernández-Rodríguez, José Pablo ; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando ; Briones, Carlos ; Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga ; Tornos, Fernando ; Gómez, Felipe ; García-Villadangos, Miriam ; Rodríguez, Nuria ; Omoregie, Enoma ; Timmis, Kenneth ; Arce, Alejandro ; Sanz, José Luis ; Gómez-Ortiz, David ; IPBSL Team. / Río Tinto : A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars. In: Life. 2014 ; Vol. 4, No. 3. pp. 511-534.
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abstract = "The geomicrobiological characterization of the water column and sediments of R{\'i}o Tinto (Huelva, Southwestern Spain) have proven the importance of the iron and the sulfur cycles, not only in generating the extreme conditions of the habitat (low pH, high concentration of toxic heavy metals), but also in maintaining the high level of microbial diversity detected in the basin. It has been proven that the extreme acidic conditions of R{\'i}o Tinto basin are not the product of 5000 years of mining activity in the area, but the consequence of an active underground bioreactor that obtains its energy from the massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Two drilling projects, MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) (2003–2006) and IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life Detection) (2011–2015), were developed and carried out to provide evidence of subsurface microbial activity and the potential resources that support these activities. The reduced substrates and the oxidants that drive the system appear to come from the rock matrix. These resources need only groundwater to launch diverse microbial metabolisms. The similarities between the vast sulfate and iron oxide deposits on Mars and the main sulfide bioleaching products found in the Tinto basin have given R{\'i}o Tinto the status of a geochemical and mineralogical Mars terrestrial analogue.",
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Amils, R, Fernández-Remolar, D, Parro, V, Rodríguez-Manfredi, JA, Oggerin, M, Sánchez-Román, M, López, FJ, Fernández-Rodríguez, JP, Puente-Sánchez, F, Briones, C, Prieto-Ballesteros, O, Tornos, F, Gómez, F, García-Villadangos, M, Rodríguez, N, Omoregie, E, Timmis, K, Arce, A, Sanz, JL, Gómez-Ortiz, D & IPBSL Team 2014, 'Río Tinto: A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars' Life, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 511-534. https://doi.org/10.3390/life4030511

Río Tinto : A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars. / Amils, Ricardo; Fernández-Remolar, David; Parro, Victor; Rodríguez-Manfredi, José Antonio; Oggerin, Monike; Sánchez-Román, Mónica; López, Francisco J.; Fernández-Rodríguez, José Pablo; Puente-Sánchez, Fernando; Briones, Carlos; Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga; Tornos, Fernando; Gómez, Felipe; García-Villadangos, Miriam; Rodríguez, Nuria; Omoregie, Enoma; Timmis, Kenneth; Arce, Alejandro; Sanz, José Luis; Gómez-Ortiz, David; IPBSL Team.

In: Life, Vol. 4, No. 3, 15.09.2014, p. 511-534.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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T1 - Río Tinto

T2 - A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars

AU - Amils, Ricardo

AU - Fernández-Remolar, David

AU - Parro, Victor

AU - Rodríguez-Manfredi, José Antonio

AU - Oggerin, Monike

AU - Sánchez-Román, Mónica

AU - López, Francisco J.

AU - Fernández-Rodríguez, José Pablo

AU - Puente-Sánchez, Fernando

AU - Briones, Carlos

AU - Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga

AU - Tornos, Fernando

AU - Gómez, Felipe

AU - García-Villadangos, Miriam

AU - Rodríguez, Nuria

AU - Omoregie, Enoma

AU - Timmis, Kenneth

AU - Arce, Alejandro

AU - Sanz, José Luis

AU - Gómez-Ortiz, David

AU - IPBSL Team

PY - 2014/9/15

Y1 - 2014/9/15

N2 - The geomicrobiological characterization of the water column and sediments of Río Tinto (Huelva, Southwestern Spain) have proven the importance of the iron and the sulfur cycles, not only in generating the extreme conditions of the habitat (low pH, high concentration of toxic heavy metals), but also in maintaining the high level of microbial diversity detected in the basin. It has been proven that the extreme acidic conditions of Río Tinto basin are not the product of 5000 years of mining activity in the area, but the consequence of an active underground bioreactor that obtains its energy from the massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Two drilling projects, MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) (2003–2006) and IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life Detection) (2011–2015), were developed and carried out to provide evidence of subsurface microbial activity and the potential resources that support these activities. The reduced substrates and the oxidants that drive the system appear to come from the rock matrix. These resources need only groundwater to launch diverse microbial metabolisms. The similarities between the vast sulfate and iron oxide deposits on Mars and the main sulfide bioleaching products found in the Tinto basin have given Río Tinto the status of a geochemical and mineralogical Mars terrestrial analogue.

AB - The geomicrobiological characterization of the water column and sediments of Río Tinto (Huelva, Southwestern Spain) have proven the importance of the iron and the sulfur cycles, not only in generating the extreme conditions of the habitat (low pH, high concentration of toxic heavy metals), but also in maintaining the high level of microbial diversity detected in the basin. It has been proven that the extreme acidic conditions of Río Tinto basin are not the product of 5000 years of mining activity in the area, but the consequence of an active underground bioreactor that obtains its energy from the massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Two drilling projects, MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) (2003–2006) and IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life Detection) (2011–2015), were developed and carried out to provide evidence of subsurface microbial activity and the potential resources that support these activities. The reduced substrates and the oxidants that drive the system appear to come from the rock matrix. These resources need only groundwater to launch diverse microbial metabolisms. The similarities between the vast sulfate and iron oxide deposits on Mars and the main sulfide bioleaching products found in the Tinto basin have given Río Tinto the status of a geochemical and mineralogical Mars terrestrial analogue.

KW - Acidophiles

KW - Iberian pyrite belt

KW - Iron cycle

KW - Iron minerals

KW - Iron oxidation

KW - Jarosite

KW - Mars

KW - Metal sulfides

KW - Río tinto

KW - Sulfur cycle

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Amils R, Fernández-Remolar D, Parro V, Rodríguez-Manfredi JA, Oggerin M, Sánchez-Román M et al. Río Tinto: A geochemical and mineralogical terrestrial analogue of Mars. Life. 2014 Sep 15;4(3):511-534. https://doi.org/10.3390/life4030511