Not even microorganisms can survive in this deadly pond

Date:25 November 2019 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:, , ,

Life has been found in some pretty obscure places on Earth, from some ‘extremophiles’ found in the frozen tundras in the North Pole, to arid lifeless deserts, and even in toxic vents deep down on the ocean floor. However, scientists have recently come across a pond of water in Ethiopia that is so toxic absolutely nothing can live there, not even microorganisms.

Named Dallol, the pond of water is located over a volcanic centre in the Ethiopian Danakil depression and is incredibly hot, salty and extremely acidic. It is so extreme that in winter daytime temperatures can exceed 45°C. According to researchers, the landscape has abundant hypersaline and hyperacid pools, with pH levels even hitting the negative mark.

(Image credit: Twitter/@DeemTeam_Orsay)

“After analysing many more samples than in previous works, with adequate controls so as not to contaminate them and a well-calibrated methodology, we have verified that there’s no microbial life in these salty, hot and hyperacid pools or in the adjacent magnesium-rich brine lakes,” said Purificación López García, study author and biologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

Despite the fact that the region does have a type of “primitive salt-loving microorganism”, Dr Garcia said “there is absolutely nothing in the pools, all this despite the fact that microbial dispersion in this area is intense due to wind and human visitors”. This means that anything that might end up in the pond, whether it be due to wind or human interference, will not survive.

(Image credit: Twitter/@DeemTeam_Orsay)

The discovery of Dallol may help scientist further understand how different environmental conditions can play a role in how life might thrive, stagnate, or simply cease to exist on neighbouring planets.

“We would not expect to find life forms in similar environments on other planets, at least not based on a biochemistry similar to terrestrial biochemistry,” said López García.

Research for this discovery was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Feature image: Twitter/@DeemTeam_Orsay

Latest Issue :

May / June 2021