Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have discovered microbes living in a toxic volcanic lake that may rank as one of the harshest environments on Earth. Their findings, published recently online, could guide scientists looking for signs of ancient life on Mars.
Sarah Black, who recently completed her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at CU Boulder, collects water samples from Laguna Caliente. Credit Brian Hynek.
The team, led by CU Boulder Associate Professor Brian Hynek, braved second-degree burns, sulfuric acid fumes and the threat of eruptions to collect samples of water from the aptly-named Laguna Caliente. Nestled in Costa Rica’s Poás Volcano, this body of water is 10 million times more acidic than tap water and can reach near boiling temperatures. It also resembles the ancient hot