Student: Kailey Casper, Undergraduate Student in Biochemistry, University of Northern Iowa
Research Mentor: Dr. Leifur Leifsson
Understanding the Flow of Organic Compounds through the Wind Cave System in South Dakota
The Wind Cave System is being used as a model to understand energy flow and the carbon cycle in cavern systems as an analog to caverns on other planetary bodies. Using a combination of field spectroscopy (fluorescence, water quality analysis, and XRF) and laboratory techniques (GCMS, UV-Vis). We are working to map the flow of nutrients (Fulvic Acids, Humic Acid) from the decay of prairie roots at the surface and their pathway into the subterranean lakes. Collecting samples from the flowstone and drip lakes found in the cave system, we hope to better understand the flow of the caverns, and how they work. We also hope to study the microorganism and understand the survival of them in extreme conditions. We hope then to understand how bacteria might be able to survive in other planetary bodies. This trip will not take place till mid-March, and right now tests are being run on the sample that was collected during the last trip so that we can compare samples that we collect during this trip.