In work reported in Physical Review Letters on June 27, physics professor Nigel Goldenfeld and graduate students Pak Yuen Chan and John Veysey present a theoretical model that describes how hot spring water flows over the landscape, depositing calcium-carbonate minerals in the form of travertine. These deposits then dam and divert the water.
"The nonlinear feedback between these two effects inexorably leads to the visually striking landscapes seen throughout the world's hot spring formations," Goldenfeld said. "Remarkably, the resulting geological structures don't depend on the rock structure or the mineral content – the statistical properties of the landscapes can be computed precisely."
The Illinois team was able to analyze such complex landscapes by using novel computational tools that they related to more standard mathematical approaches.
Composed of a nested series of ponds and terraces, hot spring landscapes are not sculpted by the forces of erosion. Instead, the rocks actually grow at a rate of about 1 millimeter per day. The Illinois group's model correctly simulates the way in which the landscape changes over time.
Hot springs comprise a complex ecosystem of interacting microbes, geochemistry and mineralogy. The rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate results in shifting flows, and in the sealing off of some springs and the eruption of new vents.
"Now that we understand the physical processes involved in how these rocks grow, we can address the way in which heat-loving microbes populate and influence the hot springs," Veysey said.
James Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
What makes corals sick?
11.12.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
12.12.2017 | Life Sciences
12.12.2017 | Information Technology
12.12.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation