Modern travertines, carbonate deposits in Ca-rich hydrothermal water with high pCO2, often display a changing environment along the water path, with corresponding variability in the microbial communities. We investigated a travertine-bearing hot spring at the Blue Pool in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The thermal water of ~ 62 °C with high H2S (200 μM) and pCO2 (~ 1 atm) developed a travertine mound ~ 70 m wide. The concentrations of the gas components H2S and CO2, decrease immediately after the water is discharged, while the dissolved oxygen, pH, and aragonite saturation increase in the downstream direction. Responding to the geochemical gradient in the water, the surface biofilms change color from white to pink, light-green, dark-green, and brown as the water flows from the vent; this corresponds to microbial communities characterized by chemolithoautotrophs (Halothiobacillaceae), purple sulfur bacteria (Chromatiaceae), Anaerolineaceae, and co-occurrence of green non-sulfur bacteria (Chloroflexales)-Cyanobacteria, and green sulfur bacteria (Chlorobiales), respectively. In an environment with a certain level of H2S (> 1 μM), sulfur digestion and anoxygenic photosynthesis can be more profitable than oxygenic photosynthesis by Cyanobacteria. The precipitated carbonate mineral consists of aragonite and calcite, with the proportion of aragonite increasing downstream due to the larger Mg2 +/Ca2 + ratio in the water or the development of thicker biofilm. Where the biofilm is well developed, the aragonite travertines often exhibit laminated structures that were likely associated with the daily metabolism of these bacteria. The microbiological and sedimentological features at the Blue Pool may be the modern analogs of geomicrobiological products in the early Earth. Biofilm of anoxygenic photosynthetic bacteria had the potential to form ancient stromatolites that existed before the appearance of cyanobacteria.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes