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PBS NOVA - The Mysterious Life of Caves


A worksheet to accompany the PBS NOVA episode entitled 'The Mysterious Life of Caves'. Focuses on bacteria and archaea found deep underground.

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									Name: __________________________ Class: _____________________ Date: _____________________

                        NOVA – Secret Life of Caves
Carlsbad Caverns
   1.   Explain how water forms caves.

   2. The floor of the “Big Room” in Carlsbad Caverns is covered in gypsum. What is this mineral?

Hidden Bacteria
   3. The pH of carbonic acid is ______________, while sulfuric acid is __________________.

          a. Which acid is stronger?

          b. How do these acids relate to the formation of gypsum?

   4. What gas is found in the oil fields around the mountains?

   5. Bacteria have been found around Yellowstone living in 176°F water. What type of extremophile is this?
          a. Thermophile
          b. Halophile
          c. Acidophile
   6. The water at Yellowstone is not boiling, yet is its bubbling. What gas is causing this?

   7. What is the energy source of bacteria living in the undersea volcanic vents?

   8. These bacteria would be classified as:
          a.   Chemoautotrophs
          b.   Photoautotrophs
          c.   Chemoheterotrophs
          d.   Photoheterotrophs
   9. Explain how bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

          a. How might these bacteria be responsible for the gypsum lined caves?

Biology Teaching Resources                                     http://www.aurumscience.com          Page 1
  10. Explain how Lechugilla is a more isolated and extreme environment than other caves.

  11. Describe two ways that human explorers can accidentally impact the microscopic life in caves.

  12. How do the scientists find the microbes in the samples they bring back to the lab?

  13. What exactly are the bacteria “eating” in the rock walls?

Cueva de Villa Luz
  14. What two compounds are present in the water flowing from the cave?

  15. What is the source of the hydrogen sulfide gas?

  16. What shape are the snottite bacteria?
         a. Coccus (Round)
         b. Bacillus (Rod)
         c. Spirilla (Spiral)

Kane Cave
  17. What is unique about this cave that allows the archaea to survive there?

  18. Describe the experiment conducted in the cave:
             Control Group:
             Experimental Group:

  19. Why might caves and the ocean floor have been more inhabitable than the surface of the Earth during
      its early history?

  20. If life exists on other plants, where is it most likely going to be found?
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