Factors influencing collected quantities of municipal solid wasteSlavica Schuster
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: The first part of the survey, using the survey (enclosed with the annexes), tried in various ways to identify samples and facts by which we could predict the amount of waste collected according to some social and economic indicators of all municipalities of the Republic of Slovenia. Data were collected through surveys to determine the way we work and think about the collection of waste and landfills. For my research I have selected the Republic of Slovenia and its 212 municipalities. It is precisely Slovenia that in many respects represents a bright spot in waste management and management.
In the second part of the research we used statistical methods to find the factors that influence the increase of waste. From the results we have proved our hypotheses and one of the most important is how the average age of people influences the increase of waste. We did the research over a period of 6 years (2012-2017). Where, by comparison, we find that they do not change significantly in structure by age, but of course socio-economic indicators such as average age change.
In the last section, we compared the growth of waste collected with GDP growth. We show that with the growth of GDP, the amount of waste collected also increases. The research is also based on the Republic of Slovenia and beyond. In the second part of the last survey we also included data for EU Member States (28 of them).
Keywords: waste, waste management, amount of waste, socio-economic impacts, Slovenia, wild-landfills, GDP
Published: 02.10.2019; Views: 827; Downloads: 38
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HOLISTIC GEOMORPHOLOGICAL SPATIAL ANALYSIS OF KARST ON KRK ISLANDEla Šegina
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: The intriguing spatial variability of surface features on Krk Island has stimulated the research of this karst area located in the coastal zone of the Dinaric karst in Croatia. Field inspection, ortho-rectified aerial photos (0.5m resolution) and a topographic map (1:5,000) were used for the detection and delineation of detectable karst surface features appearing on the island with the area of 405.5 km². This method resulted in the identification of several yet undefined types of surface features occurring on karst, requiring the revision of the existing classification and re-establishment of a new classification system compatible with the particular field reality. Several morphologic and distributive parameters that had been calculated for each re-classified type of surface feature provided insight into the surface features elementary characteristics, their spatial variability and the correlation to the other types of surface features and to the recent karst relief. This analysis based on a large, accurate dataset, contributed to the general knowledge on karstic surface features, the conditions of surface features in Dinaric karst and to the understanding of the karst surface evolution on Krk Island.
Keywords: karst geomorphology, GIS, spatial analysis, Krk Island, Dinaric karst, Adriatic Sea
Published: 13.09.2019; Views: 1097; Downloads: 70
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DETEKCIJA KOVINSKIH KOMPLEKSOV IN ORGANOKOVINSKIH SPOJIN V VZORCIH IZ OKOLJA S SPEKTROMETRIJO TERMIČNIH LEČLeja Goljat
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Environmental pollution is one of the greatest challenges that the world is facing today. Toxic compounds, such as pesticides, allergens, pharmaceuticals, toxins and heavy metals are widely present in the air, water and soil, and can affect the health of people and animals even in small quantities, as well as they may cause long- or short-term damage in plants [Hill, 1997].
Heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, cadmium…) are widely spread in the environment. They derive from a number of sources, including mining, industrial wastes and vehicle emissions [Tchounwou et al., 2012]. They are easily incorporated into biological molecules and exert their toxic effects by displacing essential metals of a lower binding power in biologically active molecules or by acting as noncompetitive inhibitors of enzymes, affecting neurological, reproductive, renal and hematological systems [Sunil D’Souza et al., 2003; Heavy-Metal Pollution, 2018]. Metals form countless compounds (e.g. metal complexes and organometallic compounds) which are essential for living organisms (vitamin B12, hemoglobin, chlorophyll) and/or have a wide range of applications in industry and other areas, including analytical chemistry. Because of the potential risk which toxic metals represent to the living organisms and also because of the importance of some essential metals, different analytical techniques and detection methods have been developed for studies of their occurrence, fate and concentration in the environment and in organisms. However, providing a required sensitivity for determination and speciation of different metals and their compounds, especially in small- volume samples is still a challenge.
Therefore, general objectives of this dissertation were development of novel analytical methods for sensitive, reliable and fast determination of metal species, based on highly sensitive optothermal technique thermal lens spectrometry (TLS), which can be used as detection tool following colorimetric reaction of a selected metal ion or for direct detection of colored organometallic compounds.
This dissertation is composed of the following chapters: introduction, research goals, theoretical background, results and discussion, conclusion and references. The core of this dissertation is presented in the fifth chapter (results and discussion), which is divided into three parts. They separately cover development of methods for determination of iron redox species, pyoverdine and Fe-pyoverdine complexes and mercury. Pyoverdine is a siderophore, excreted by a certain bacteria in order to scavenge iron in the environment and is closely related to the chemistry of iron in such biological systems. Therefore, the first two parts are closely related.
Procedures for batch mode thermal lens microscopy (TLM), flow-injection thermal lens sprectrometry (FIA-TLS) and µFIA-TLM (flow injection and TLS detection in microspace) were developed for Fe(II) and Fe(III) determination, based on colorimetric reaction of Fe(II) with 1,10-Phenanthroline. All these procedures were focused on cloudwater examination with a tendency to minimize sample consumption but at the same time preserve low limits of detection (LOD) and limits of quantification (LOQ). TLM measurements with highly collimated probe beam were performed in a 100 μm optical path length cell (40 µL volume), which resulted in a considerably smaller sample volume requirement (500 µL in total) and consumption, as compared to UV-Vis spectrophotometry, which required at least 25 mL of sample due to large volume (almost 30 mL) of the 10 cm optical path-length sample cell. LODs for mode-mismatched TLM were 0.16 and 0.14 µM for Fe(II) and Fe(total) (sum of Fe(II) and Fe(III) concentrations), respectively, while LODs for UV-Vis spectrophotometry were 0.01 µM for both Fe(II) and Fe(total). By using the mode mismatched TLM we were able to detect concentrations corresponding to absorbances as low as 1.5 × 10-5, while the lowest absorbance detectable on the UV-Vis spectrophotometer corresponded to 1.1 × 10-3, despite the use of the 10 cm optical path-length cell.
Another important step in the development of new methods for Fe(II) and Fe(III) determination was the use of TLS detection in FIA (FIA-TLS). By injecting 50 µL of the sample into the FIA-TLS system, cca. 10 times lower LODs were achieved (1 × 10-3 µM for Fe(II) and 8 × 10-4 µM for Fe(total)), as compared to the UV- Vis spectrophotometry.
Nevertheless, the development of μFIA-TLM method, with on-line colorimetric reaction for Fe(II) and Fe(III) determination is considered as the most important achievement of this study. The results show that despite 100 times shorter optical path length and low sample consumption (3 µL of each sample/injection) compared to UV-Vis spectrophotometry, LODs for µFIA-TLM were 0.10 and 0.07 μM for Fe(II) and Fe(total) respectively, which is sufficiently for cloudwater analysis, since concentrations, lower than 0.1 μM are not expected [Parazols et al., 2006; Deguillaume et al., 2014]. Linear range for Fe(II) and Fe(III) determination by μFIA-TLM was between 0.1 and 70 µM. To test the accuracy of this method, artificial cloudwater was prepared, spiked with different amounts of Fe(II) and Fe(III) and analyzed for iron content by µFIA-TLM and UV-Vis spectrophotometry. Good agreement was observed between the two methods. To ascertain the ruggedness of the method 7 (or more) replicate determinations at two different concentrations for both, Fe(II) and Fe(total) in artificial cloudwater were carried out on day 1 (replicates were measured instantly after fortification), day 2 and day 5. A student’s t-test (p=0.05) was applied to compare 3 sets of obtained data (day 1, day 2 and day 5) and showed that sets are not significantly different from each other. Considering very low sample volume requirement of µFIA-TLM, this should be the method of choice for determination of Fe(II) and Fe(III) in investigations of processes in cloudwater, where multiparameter analysis is desired (determination of other ions, ligands, microbial counts, etc.). When larger sample volumes are available, FIA-TLS can be used for accurate determination of iron species at lowest concentration levels.
High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was applied for separation and detection of pyoverdine (PVD), produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens 36b5, a bacterial strain isolated from the aqueous phase of clouds at the Puy de Dôme station (1465 m, France). Reversed-phase (RP) chromatography (RP-18 chromatographic column Hypersil gold), hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC) (ZIC®-Hilic column) and three different detection systems
(diode-array (DAD), spectrofluorimetry (FLD) and TLS) were tested for their performance in separation and determination of pyoverdines and corresponding complexes of pyoverdine with iron (Fe(III)-PVDs).
PVDs and Fe(III)-PVD complexes could not be separated and quantified by applying HILIC technique, therefore it was concluded, that HILIC is not suitable for HPLC-DAD and also not for HPLC-TLS, since the method should offer a simultaneous sensitive detection of free PVDs as well as Fe(III)-PVD complexes in a single chromatographic run.
Since pyoverdine standards were available only as a mixture of several different forms of PVDs, whereby the exact composition was unknown, the quantification of each of the four major specie (two fluorescent PVDs and two nonfluorescent Fe(III)-PVDs) in the standard, which was obtained from Université Clermont Auvergne, Institut de Chimie de Clermont-Ferrand, was performed. When applying Hypersil gold column, a linear correlation between fluorescence intensity and absorbance of each component was observed in a concentration range 3–24 µg/mL, whereby LODs were estimated to be 0.03–0.04 µg/mL for each of the major PVD species (HPLC-DAD). Even though HPLC-FLD method provided cca. 100 times lower LODs, it is not the method of choice for determination of PVD species in cloudwater, because it does not allow detection of PVD complexes with Fe(III). When comparing HPLC-TLS and
HPLC-DAD, LODs were 5 to 8 times lower in case of HPLC-TLS, which was a significant improvement. Furthermore, recoveries (89–111 %) at two concentration levels of four PVD species in two independent samples, showed good reliability of the method.
Almost all mercury in uncontaminated drinking-water is thought to be in the form of Hg2+ [WHO, 2010]. Therefore, the method for Hg2+determination based on colorimetric reaction with triamterene, described originally by Al-Kady and Abdelmonem was further investigated in this study, as well as the possibilities of application of this reaction for Hg2+ determination by TLS. The stoichiometry of the complex formation was determined by the method of continuous variations and saturation experiment, suggesting formation of the complex with the formula Hg2-triamterene. The obtained value of the molar absorption coefficient was 9988 Lmol-1cm-1 at 403 nm, which significantly contradicts the existing data in literature, which reports the molar absorption coefficient of 5.32 × 104 Lmol-1cm-1 [Al-Kady and Abdelmonem, 2013]. Even though the spectrophotometric results were not encouraging for triamterene as colorimetric reagent for Hg2+ determination, it was further investigated for its performance in TLS system. Fe(II)-1,10-phenanthroline (ferroin) was used for comparison, because it was well studied for TLS applications previously. The results showed that Hg2-triamterene in solutions was degraded when it was exposed to the light of the excitation beam. Due to the lower molar absorptivity than reported in literature, fotodegradation and unfavorable complex stoichiometry, triamterene was not confirmed as a suitable colorimetric reagent for highly sensitive Hg2+ determination by TLS.
In summary, this dissertation investigates alternative approaches for analysis of metal complexes and organometallic compounds in small-volume environmental water samples. Methods, which were developed in this research, could potentially serve as improvements of existing technologies, to facilitate analysis of such samples, by offering simple handling of samples and superior sensitivity over the UV-Vis spectrophotometry.
Keywords: thermal lens spectrometry, thermal lens microscopy, high performance liquid chromatography, microfluidics, metal complexes, organometallic compounds, iron, pyoverdine, mercury
Published: 05.09.2019; Views: 833; Downloads: 45
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Structural and functional determinants of TDP-43 aggregationSanja Škaro
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: TDP-43 (TAR DNA-binding protein) is an hnRNP that was identified as the main component of the brain inclusions characteristically found in patients suffering of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. As an hnRNP protein, TDP-43 fulfills diverse roles in mRNA metabolism, localization and transport. Structurally, TDP-43 is composed of a well conserved N terminal domain (NTD), two RRM domains of which RRM1 is necessary for recognizing and binding to its target, UG rich RNA sequences, and the C-terminal domain (CTD) which is a Glycine rich domain. The CTD also contains a Q/N rich region that plays a key role in protein aggregation and interaction with another hnRNP proteins and polyglutamine repeats. This thesis focus on the structural determinants involved in the different TDP-43 interactions with itself and with other hnRNPs. Both the carboxyl and amino terminal domains are involved in these interactions. We have mapped the regions more relevant for the function of TDP-43 and for the aggregation process characteristic of the pathological pathway leading to neurodegeneration. We have started to further study the N-terminal domain. Previous results in our laboratory using a cellular aggregation model have shown that the N-terminal domain is also necessary for sequestering the endogenous TDP-43 into the aggregates. In particular, the intact NTD, specifically residues 1 to 77, have been shown to be needed to efficiently recruit TDP-43 monomers into these aggregates. We have extended our knowledge of NTD structure and function, by assessing the behavior of a series of proteins in which key structural features (α-helix and β-sheets) were modified and TDP-43 splicing function together with structure via NMR were analyzed. It was found that by disrupting protein secondary structure in the NTD (mutation in α-helix NTD-31V/R-32T/R) the capacity of the aggregates to sequester enough TDP-43 to induce loss of function was lost.In fact, this protein is also unable to recovery TDP-43 functionality when it is disrupted due to sequestration of the endogenous TDP-43 in add back experiments. Disturbing protein stability through substitution of residues in α-helix also affects its ability to form an active conformation. On the other hand, synthesis of hybrid peptides containing certain NTD and CTD segments was performed in order to see if they are capable to bind to the TDP-43 aggregates. However, it has been shown that these synthetic peptides have a greater ability to induce TDP-43 aggregation than to bind to them, probably due to specific functional characteristics of NTD and CTD segments used for their synthesis.The main focus of the thesis was on the C-terminal domain sequences involved in protein-protein interaction, misfolding and aggregation.A comparison of human, mouse, zebrafish, Annelida, flatworms and Drosophila showed a very strong conservation of the NTD and RRMs, but the C terminal regions of human and other TDP-43 orthologues are very different.I have studied Human and Drosophila melanogaster orthologues, because Drosophila orthologue contains different paralogs of TDP-43.Through a series of deletions and mutations it was shown that the shorter paralog of Drosophila TDP-43 (TBPH-RA) is more active than the longer one (TBPH-RC), and that this is due to a combination of two factors: 1. TBPH-RC by itself aggregates more than TBPH-RA, 2. The functionality of TBPH-RC is downregulated by intramolecular interactions in the C terminal domain. Apparently there is a cation-π interaction involving Tryptophan and Arginine in TBPH-RC that has a high relevance to the protein function and is lacking in the TBPH-RA.Overall this data has identified structural features essential for the proper function of TDP-43.In addition, we have also identified sequences that are critical in the pathological aggregation process of TDP-43 that lead to the characteristic brain inclusions in ALS and FTLD and to the loss of functionality
Keywords: TDP-43 structural determinants, hybrid peptides, protein-protein interactions, intramolecular interaction, cation-π interaction, Drosophila orthologues.
Published: 22.07.2019; Views: 815; Downloads: 39
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Regional biodiversity and seasonal dynamics of the bacterial communities in karstic springs of SloveniaMaja Opalički Slabe
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Information on groundwater’s natural bacterial communities is important for evaluating pristine groundwater’s quality, as environmental changes potentially lead to alterations in bacterial community structures. In four seasons, 15 hypothetically pristine springs across five karst eco-regions in Slovenia (Central Europe) were analysed during their low discharge, and their basic physical and chemical parameters were recorded. The diversity of bacterial community structures was assessed with a terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism fingerprinting method. Total cell counts as bacterial abundance and electron transport system activity as bacterial respiratory activity were used for quantitative evaluation of bacterial communities. To detect anthropogenic pollution, spring water was tested by the cultivation of coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Results indicate distinct regional differences in environmental parameters, bacterial respiratory activity, presence of coliforms and E. coli, bacterial abundances, and qualitative bacterial community structures, but there were no regional differences in the numbers of operational taxonomic units and biodiversity indices (Shannon-Wiener’s and Simpson’s diversity index, Buzas and Gibson’s evenness). The analysis of seasonal environmental parameters showed significant differences in dissolved organic carbon and pH, and also significant changes in bacterial respiratory activity and abundances, as well as differences in bacterial community structures, the numbers of operational taxonomic units, and biodiversity indices. No seasonal variations were shown for coliforms and E. coli.
Despite seasonal oscillations, regional differences prevailed among five karst eco-regions and indicate a significant influence on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of groundwater bacterial community structures. The study confirmed both regional and seasonal differences in groundwater bacterial community structures, which should be included in further sustainable management plans of the aquifers.
Keywords: karst springs, bacterial community structure (BCS), terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), total cell counts (TCC), electron transport system activity (ETSA)
Published: 26.06.2019; Views: 898; Downloads: 46
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Evaluation of policy and technical factors for the protection of karst aquifersKatarina Kosič Ficco
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Karst aquifer protection remains inchoate. National and international legally-binding mechanisms rarely consider implementation of karst-specific measures for their evaluation and protection. Although developing suitable protection measures for karst aquifers is challenging because their variable character hampers implementation of generalized methods, it is not impossible. As presented in this dissertation, consideration of scientific aspects and inclusion of karst-specific evaluation methods is of great importance. However, the additional inclusion of socio-political aspects is also crucial for advances in karst aquifer protection. Analyses of current European Union and United States of America policies performed in this study have shown that they can provide valuable input regarding the topic. It is also clear that accounting for the interests of affected entities, such as policy-makers, stakeholders and the public, is critical. Satisfying their needs, and assuring their understanding of karst aquifers, can ease and improve implementations of adopted measures. By recognizing these aspects, an interdisciplinary framework for karst aquifer protection was developed, and is presented in this study. The so-called K-framework, developed as a checklist, assures implementation of necessary steps for comprehensive karst aquifer evaluation and management. It further defines how each entity can contribute to the process by providing their knowledge, and allocates responsibilities of each sphere. An important attribute of the proposed framework is that it can be used on varying karst terrains and for various impacts that might threaten karst aquifers. Additionally, it is cost- and time-efficient, while still considering important aspects of karst and insuring the inclusion of important affected parties.
Keywords: aquifer, groundwater, karst, protection, environmental legislation, confined animal feeding operation, vulnerability mapping
Published: 17.06.2019; Views: 1023; Downloads: 51
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OXYGEN-EXCESS RELATED DEFECTS IN SiO2-BASED MATERIALS: COUPLING THEORY AND EXPERIMENTSBlaž Winkler
, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: This work is primarily focused on application of standard first-principle computational approaches to model oxygen excess related point defects in amorphous silica. Atomic models with their respective electronic and optical properties are explored together with some conversion mechanisms between defect models.
The first chapter overviews extensive literature about the already known properties of oxygen related defects. Second chapter briefly introduces main methods that have been used in this research, in particular Density Functional Theory (DFT) as energy and force engine with short description of minimal energy path (MEP) algorithm used for modeling chemical/migration reactions, GW approximation for charged electronic excitations (band structure) and Bethe-Salpeter Equation (BSE) for neutral excitations (optical absorption and excitonic structure including electron hole interaction). The third chapter is devoted to the presentation of results. Thanks to the calculation of optical properties of peroxy bridge (POL), a correlation has been found between structural disorder, specifically dihedral angle dispersion, and low coupling with light, which has been identified as main reason why no clear absorption bands have been assigned to the POL. Structure and stability of some other defects, like interstitial ozone molecule (ozonyl) and dioxasilirane (silicon analogy of dioxirane), have been studied. These defects are usually not considered as most important species, however their calculated formation energies are lower compared to some known defects, which indicates they might be present in silica.
From a detailed study on possible reaction mechanisms, it has been found that ozonyl might be one of the most important intermediate steps for oxygen exchange reactions. Results also show that dioxasilirane can be spontaneously created during the interaction of oxygen with lone pair defects. By exploring different reactions between oxygen and pre-existing oxygen deficiency centers (ODCs), calculations predict two kinds of passivation behaviors: single-barrier reversible mechanisms with the formation of dioxasilirane-like groups, for which the network keeps the memory of the precursory lone pair defects, and single or multiple-barrier mechanisms, for which the network loses its memory, either because of the high reverse barrier or because of a reconstruction.
Final part of this research has been devoted to experimental characterization of the response and tolerance of optical fibers loaded with oxygen under irradiation. These include experiments on commercial fiber along with canonical samples (Optical fibers developed with the intention of studying correlations between different fabrication parameters, dopant/impurity concentration and doping concentrations). Studied fibers also include rare-earth doped fibers.
Keywords: Silica, DFT, GW-approximation, Bethe-Salpeter equation, NEB, defect, oxygen, oxygen excess centers, oxygen deficiency centers, optical absorption, optical fibers, radiation induced attenuation.
Published: 07.05.2019; Views: 1093; Downloads: 67
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Modelling of Macrosegregation of a Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Direct Chill Casting by a Meshless MethodVanja Hatić
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: The main aim of the dissertation is to develop a meshless model that describes the solidification and macrosegregation phenomena during the direct chill casting (DCC) of aluminium alloys under the influence of a low-frequency electromagnetic field. Macrosegregation is an undesired consequence of alloy solidification. It represents one of the major casting defects and substantially reduces the quality of the finished product. On the other hand, low-frequency electromagnetic casting (LFEC) is a process that promises to increase greatly the product quality, including the reduction of macrosegregation. The modelling of both processes is of tremendous importance to the metallurgical industry, due to the high costs of experiments during production.
The volume-averaging formulation is used for the modelling of the solid-liquid interaction. The conservation equations for mass, energy, momentum, and species are used to model the solidification of aluminium-alloy billets in axysimmetry. The electromagnetic-induction equation is coupled with the melt flow. It is used to calculate the magnetic vector potential and the Lorentz force. The Lorentz force is time-averaged and included in the momentum-conservation equation, which intensifies the melt flow. The effect of Joule heating is neglected in the energy conservation due to its insignificant contribution. The semi-continuous casting process is modelled with the Eulerian approach. This implies that the global computational domain is fixed in space. The inflow of the liquid melt is assumed at the top boundary and the outflow of the solid metal is assumed at the bottom. It is assumed that the whole mushy area is a rigid porous media, which is modelled with the Darcy law. The Kozeny-Carman relation is used for the permeability definition. The incompressible mass conservation is ensured by the pressure correction, which is performed with the fractional step method. The conservation equations and the induction equation are posed in the cylindrical coordinate system. A linearised eutectic binary phase diagram is used to predict the solute redistribution in the solid and liquid phases. The micro model uses the lever rule to determine the temperature and the liquid fraction field from the transport equations.
The partial differential equations are solved with the meshless-diffuse-approximate method (DAM). The DAM uses weighted least squares to determine a locally smooth approximation from a discrete set of data. The second-order polynomials are used as the trial functions, while the Gaussian function is used as the weight function. The method is localised by defining a smooth approximation for each computational node separately. This is performed by associating each node with a unique local neighbourhood, which is used for the minimisation. There are 14 nodes included in the local subdomains for the DCC and LFEC simulations. The stability of the advective term is achieved with a shift of the Gaussian weight in the upwind direction. This approach is called the adaptive upwind weight function and is used in the DAM for the first time. The Explicit-Euler scheme is used for temporal discretisation.
The use of a meshless method and the automatic node-arrangement generation makes it possible to investigate the complicated flow structures, which are formed in geometrically complex inflow conditions in a straightforward way. A realistic inflow geometry and mould can therefore be included in the model. The number of computational nodes is increased in the mushy zone and decreased in the solid phase, due to the optimisation of the computational time and memory. The computational node arrangement is automatically adapted with time, as the position of the mushy zone is changed in shape and position.
Keywords: low-frequency electromagnetic casting, direct chill casting, macrosegregation, electromagnetic stirring, aluminium alloys, meshless methods, diffuse-approximate method, multiphysics model, solidification
Published: 25.04.2019; Views: 898; Downloads: 56
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MINERALOGY AND GEOMICROBIOLOGY IN ACTIVE VOLCANIC CAVE ENVIRONMENTS IN CENTRAL AMERICAAndres Ulloa Carmiol
, 2019, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Recently, the study of mineralogical and geomicrobiological interactions in volcanic caves is gaining relevance, because there are many factors to consider them as Mars analogues for astrobiology and planetary sciences. In addition, sulfuric acid caves have also shown to be an important field of study for the understanding of chemolithoautotrophic metabolic pathways, especially in regard to the biogeochemical cycle of sulfur compounds. Hitherto, sulfur-rich volcanic caves found in Central America were almost unknown to the scientific community. This work presents the mineralogical and microbiological diversity and the potential geomicrobiological links found in active volcanic settings, such as Cueva los Minerales (CMI) and Cueva los Mucolitos (CMU) at Irazú volcano (Costa Rica), and Cueva Hoyo de Koppen (CHK) at El Hoyo volcano (Nicaragua). The volcanic caves at Irazú volcano (Costa Rica) are located in the northwest (NW) foothills of the main crater. These caves became accessible after the partial collapse of the NW sector of the Irazú volcano in 1994, offering the opportunity to investigate in situ active minerogenetic processes. Detailed mineralogical and geochemical analyses were performed to study the speleothems at CMI and CMU. Mineralogical analyses included X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Raman spectroscopy, while geochemical characterization was done using Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) coupled to Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). In noveladdition, measurements of cave environmental parameters, cave drip water, and a compilation of geochemical analyses of the Irazú volcanic lake (located ca. 150 m above the cave level) and fumarole analyses, were conducted between 1991 and 2014. Forty-eight different mineral phases were identified, mostly rare hydrated sulfates of the alunite, halotrichite, copiapite, kieserite and rozenite groups; thirteen of which are described here, as cave minerals, for the first time, i.e. aplowite, bieberite, boyleite, dietrichite, ferricopiapite, ferrinatrite, lausenite, lishizhenite, magnesiocopiapite, marinellite, pentahydrite, szomolnokite, and wupatkiite. The presence of other novel cave minerals, such as tolbachite, mercallite, rhomboclase, cyanochroite, and retgersite, is likely, but this was not possible to confirm by the various mineralogical techniques employed in this study. It was determined that uplifting of sulfurous gases, water percolation from the Irazú volcanic lake, and hydrothermal interactions with the volcanic host rock are responsible for such extreme mineralogical diversity.
Moreover, acidic (pH < 2) viscous biofilms, known as snottites, were observed hanging from both, walls and ceiling, of the caves at Irazú volcano, in close relation with the presence of sulfate minerals. Knowledge about snottites in volcanic caves is scarce, being biofilms present in carbonated rocks the most studied, e.g. at Frasassi and Acquasanta caves (Italy), and Cueva de Villa Luz and Luna Azufre (Mexico). 16S rRNA techniques (with primers for target Bacteria and Archaea), together with bioinformatics analyses, were used to investigate the snottites from CMU and CMI. The results indicated that both prokaryotic groups in the snottites offer a vast metabolic potential to execute various reactions, including redox reactions. The phylogenetic findings revealed that approximately 65% of the identified taxa corresponded to species related to sulfur-oxidizing metabolic pathways (e.g., Leptospirillum, Mycobacterium, Acidithiobacillus and Acidiphilium), while just 0.04% corresponded to sulfur-reducing species (Desulfosporosinus). Since sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms appeared to be dominant in the acidic snottites, induced-gypsum precipitation by changes in micro environmental conditions, is strongly suggested as the path for biomineralization at the studied caves. 34S isotope signature of sulfur minerals presented negative values (from -16.2 to -3.4 ‰), comparable with data obtained...
Keywords: Volcanic caves, Costa Rica, Irazú, Cueva los Mucolitos, Cueva los Minerales, Nicaragua, Hoyo, Cueva Hoyo de Koppen, mineralogy, sulfur isotopes, hydrated sulfates, active volcano, microbiology, snottites, geomicrobiology, astrobiology, Mars analogue.
Published: 15.04.2019; Views: 988; Downloads: 60
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