A chemical and microbial characterization of selected mud volcanoes in Trinidad reveals pathogens introduced by surface water and rain water

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Shirin Haque, Denise Beckles, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Mourad Harir, Beate Schneider, Christine Stumpp, Dirk Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Terrestrial mud volcanoes are unique structures driven by tectonic pressure and fluids from the deep subsurface. These structures are mainly found in active tectonic zones, such as the area near the Los Bajos Fault in Trinidad. Here we report a chemical and microbiological characterization of three mud volcanoes, which included analyses of multiple liquid and solid samples from the mud volcanoes. Our study confirms previous suggestions that at least some of the mud volcano fluids are a mixture of deeper salt-rich water and surficial/precipitation water. No apparent water quality differences were found between sampling sites north and south of a major geological fault line. Microbiological analyses revealed diverse communities, both aerobic and anaerobic, including sulfate reducers, methanogens, carbon dioxide fixing and denitrifying bacteria. Several identified species were halophilic and likely derived from the deeper salt-rich subsurface water, while we also cultivated pathogenic species from the Vibrionaceae, Enterobacteriaceae, Shewanellaceae, and Clostridiaceae. These microorganisms were likely introduced into the mud volcano fluids both from surface water or shallow ground-water, and perhaps to a more minor degree by rain water. The identified pathogens are a major health concern that needs to be addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136087
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume707
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Contamination
  • Fluids
  • Isotope
  • Metabolomics
  • Mud volcanoes
  • Pathogens

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