. The Astrobiology Web: Your Online Guide to the Living Universe TM
An Antarctic Photo Album, Volume 1
by Dale Andersen

Text and Photographs ©copyright 1996 Dale T. Andersen. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced with permission.

[214, 34k jpeg] Another view of the benthic microbial mats.

These lakes are supersaturated with gases mainly as a result of the thick ice-cover. Above 11 meters, bubble formation occurs. This, in turn, causes large amounts of the microbial mat to tear lose from the bottom of the lake. Some of this material then floats to the underneath side of the ice-cover, is incorporated into the ice, and then is transported to the surface of the ice over a period of about 10 years. The now dry, frozen, mat may be transported via the wind to other locations. If the mat should happen to land in liquid water (during the summer months) the cells will rehydrate and begin to grow again if the necessary nutrients required for growth are available.

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