Evidence for the discharge of hydrothermal water into Lake Lucero, White Sands National Monument, southern New Mexico
Ground-water and soil samples from the western boundary of the playa Lake Lucero were analyzed for chemical and microbial composition. DNA analysis revealed the detection of Methanosaeta thermoacetophila, a microbe diagnostic for deep, hydrothermal water. This discovery led to the hypothesis that hydrothermal water discharges into ground water beneath Lake Lucero. Further support for this hypothesis is provided by (1) the presence of hydrothermal minerals in the soil, (2) abnormally high ground-water temperatures, and (3) a high 18O isotope fractionation inconsistent with salinity effects alone. The inflow of hydrothermal water into an alkaline playa lake makes this area an extremely interesting study site for origin of life theories.
- Schulze-Makuch, Dirk, 2002, Evidence for the discharge of hydrothermal water into Lake Lucero, White Sands National Monument, southern New Mexico, in: Geology of White Sands, Lueth, Virgil W.; Giles, Katherine A.; Lucas, Spencer G.; Kues, Barry S.; Myers, Robert; Ulmer, Scholle, Dana S., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 53rd Field Conference, pp. 325-329.