The Río Tinto extreme environment is a 100-km-long acidic fluvial system emplaced in the Iberian Pyritic Belt (IPB) (Fernández-Remolar et al. 2005). Mines of copper, silver, and gold have been exploited for over 3,000 years. The fluvial system is composed of two acidic streams sourced in Peña de Hierro and Cerro Colorado areas, respectively. Its peculiar geochemistry is maintained by different low-pH springs sourced on a pyrite ore body aquifer which is affected by microbial-driven weathering. The Río Tinto springs are connected to the aquifer by a diverse set of normal faults which recharge the subsurface with rainwater and oxygen. In this system, the acidic springs result from the acidic subsurface waters which outflow through the same group of faults. Microbial life displays a great diversity in eukaryotic living forms and a versatile metabolism in the prokaryotic microbes (Aguilera et al. 2007; González-Toril...
KeywordsExtreme environment Fluvial system Mars analog
References and Further Reading
- Fernández-Remolar DC, Gómez F, Prieto-Ballesteros O, Schelble RT, Rodríguez N, Amils R (2008a) Some ecological mechanisms to generate habitability in planetary subsurface areas by chemolithotrophic communities: the Río Tinto subsurface ecosystem as a model system. Astrobiology 8:157–173CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
- Gómez F, Fernández-Remolar D, González-Toril EF, Amils R (2004) The Tinto River, an extreme Gaian environment. In: Margulis L, Miller J, Boston P, Schneider S, Crist E (eds) Scientist on Gaia 2000. MIT Press, BostonGoogle Scholar