Coordinated Geobiology research
on Yellowstone hot springs and Caribbean and Pacific coral reef ecosystems have
identified a suite of universally active microbe-water-rock interactions that
fundamentally shape these ecosystems. While at first glance these seem to be
wildly different and unrelated environments, close examination reveals a host
of striking similarities and scientific parallels.
microbes in Yellowstone are able to respond to shifts in water flow rate and
temperature by changing the speed at which travertine rock (aragonite) is
deposited on the floor of the drainage channels. Biochemical analyses suggest
that the microbes do this by producing different types of protein under
different water temperature and flow conditions. Application of this mechanism
from hot springs to coral reefs suggest that that similar biotic responses are
active in forming density banding in the aragonitic skeleton of scleractinian
We will review how this affects the reconstruction
of paleotemperature from coral skeleton density banding, and its impact on
predicting future trends in sea surface temperature and climate change.