Acid waters in Antartica

Title: Acid waters in Antartica

Lecturer: Bernarth Dold

Date: Tuesday February the 24th 2015, 17 hs.

Place: Room 4.

Abstract:  Bernarth Dold is specialized in biogeochemical and hydrogeological processes controlling element cycles in ground and surface waters, soils, industrial waste environments, bioleaching operations, and ore formation.

Acid waters are mainly due to the interaction between groundwaters of different geological units containing significant amounts of massive metal sulfides by oxidation and dissolution processes in warm climates.  As an example; the pyrite oxidation:

FeS2 (Pyrite) +3 ½O2 + H2O   à  Fe2+ + 2SO42- + 2H+

But how can acid waters be formed in Antarctica? Massive sulphide oxidation in cold climates has been scarcely studied, but it is known that these kinds of waters exist. Would their impact on local species be positive or negative?

Expeditions to Antarctica have been performed to study both the biogeochemical cycling of iron and sulfur, in which has been observed a biogeochemical reduction process; Fe (III) to Fe(II), generated by microorganisms and submarine groundwater discharge.


-          The study undergone allowed us to understand the relationship between this phenomenon and the effect of the contribution of limit elements of the ocean food chain.

-          Research on sulphide oxidation in an extreme climate could help understanding the origin of life and the possibility of finding it in other planets.

-          Knowledge on this topic would be useful for mining operations located in cold areas like high Andes.