Thursday, August 1, 2013

Oxide Of Spring

The day after we arrived I hiked quickly through the woods. The mosquitoes are horrendous, because of so much rain, and that same rain has saturated the normally summer-dry depressions. I've seen the ground water flowing from under the tree before, a nearly mythic scene, a tree to the side of the tractor road that traverses the woods and blocks the flow of water. From its roots a spring. 

Now the water runs with a rusty slime and I became curious.

From Wikipedia:
"Iron bacteria colonize the transition zone where de-oxygenated water from ananaerobic environment flows into an aerobic environment. Groundwater containing dissolved organic material may be de-oxygenated by microorganisms feeding on that dissolved organic material. Where concentrations of organic material exceed the concentration of dissolved oxygen required for complete oxidation, microbial populations with specialized enzymes can reduce insoluble ferric oxide in aquifer soils to soluble ferrous hydroxide and use the oxygen released by that change to oxidize some of the remaining organic material:[2]
H2O + Fe2O3 → 2Fe(OH)2 + O2
(water) + (Iron[III] oxide) → (Iron[II] hydroxide) + (oxygen)
When the de-oxygenated water reaches a source of oxygen, iron bacteria use that oxygen to convert the soluble ferrous iron back into an insoluble reddish precipitate of ferric iron:[3]
2Fe(OH)2 + O2 → H2O + Fe2O3
(Iron[II] hydroxide) + (oxygen) → (water) + (Iron[III] oxide)"

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