Acidic water with extremophile anaerobic bacteria – Rio Tinto, Spain

 
 
 
 

The Río Tinto is a river in southwestern Spain that rises in the Sierra Morena mountains of Andalusia. It flows generally south-southwest, reaching the Gulf of Cádiz at Huelva. The Rio Tinto River has a unique red and orange colour. The colour is derived from the chemical makeup of the river. The river is extremely acidic and contains very high levels of iron. The combination of the acid water, heavy metals and high levels of iron give the river its unique colour.
The Rio Tinto River is extremely acidic (pH 2) which is due to the acid drainage from previous mining history as well as natural acid rock drainage in the area. There are severe environmental concerns over the pollution in the river. The pollution plays a key role in the rivers unique colour. Its environmental concerns are partially due to the rivers' very high levels of metal and its low levels of hydrogen ion. Although certain forms of life do thrive in these extreme envrionemntal conditions. The Rio Tinto River is habitat to certain forms of bacteria, algae and heterotrophs. More specifically eukaryotes and chemolithotrophic bacteria, as well as other microorganisms.
This river has gained recent scientific interest due to the presence of extremophile anaerobic bacteria that dwell in the water. The subsurface rocks on the river bed contain iron and sulfide minerals on which the bacteria feed. The extreme conditions in the river may be analogous to other locations in the solar system thought to contain liquid water, such as subterranean Mars. NASA scientists have also directly compared the chemistry of the water in which the rocks of Meridiani Planum were deposited in the past with the Río Tinto. Likewise Jupiter's moon Europa is theorized to contain an acidic ocean of water underneath its ice surface. Thus the river is of interest to astrobiologists. (Source: Wikipedia)

Freshwater Ecoregion of the World : #413 Southern Iberia

Major Habitat Type: Temperate floodplain rivers and wetlands

 
Underwater 2019
 

U41-056

U41-057

U41-058

U41-059

U41-060

U41-061

U41-062

U41-063

U41-064

U41-065

U41-066

U41-067

U41-068

U41-069

U41-070

U41-071

U41-072

U41-073

U41-074

U41-075

U41-076

U41-077

U41-078

U41-079

U41-080

U41-081

U41-082

U41-083

U41-084

U41-085
   

Aerial 2019

   

U41-086

U41-087

U41-088

U41-089

U41-090

U41-091

U41-092

U41-093

U41-094

U41-095

U41-096

U41-097

U41-098

U41-099

U41-100

U41-101

Landscapes 2018, 2019

   

U41-102

U41-103

U41-104

U41-105

U41-106

U41-107

U41-108

U41-001

U41-002

U41-003

U41-004

U41-005

U41-006

U41-007

U41-008

U41-009

U41-010

U41-011

U41-012

U41-013

U41-014

U41-015

U41-016

U41-017

U41-018

U41-019

U41-020

U41-021

U41-022

U41-023

U41-024

U41-025
   
   

U41-109

U41-110

U41-026

U41-027

U41-028

U41-029

U41-030

U41-031

U41-032

U41-033

U41-034

U41-035

U41-036

U41-037

U41-038

U41-039

U41-040

U41-041

U41-042

U41-043

U41-044

U41-045

U41-046

U41-047

U41-048

U41-049

U41-050

U41-051

U41-052

U41-053

U41-054

U41-055
All Photographs Copyright 2019© Michel Roggo