Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cuatrocienegas de Carranza

Well, after a mail from Jeff about Cuatrocienegas, I thought of finally writing about it here...

So, briefly Cuatrocienegas de Carranza is a small town at the middle of Cuatrocienegas Basin in the northernmost part of Mexico, inside Coahuila state. It was the homeland of Don Venustiano Carranza, a figure from the revolution famous for being president, almost achieving Veracruz independence and the killing of Emiliano Zapata.

Cuatrocienegas' Basin host one of the most hostile and attractive environment I've ever encountered. Its summer temperature can be as high as 52 C, and as low as -5 C in the winter. It is dominated by an haloxerophytic environment. Annual precipitation is less than 120 cc. Half of it is gypsum rock rich while the other half is calcite rich. It hosts many endemic species, including a cilindropuntia cactus and a desert turtle. Arguably, its main atraction is the system of surface water bodies called Pozas, that seem to date back to when pangaea opened and gave place to Tethys Sea. Hence, a strange diversity can be found: they're the home of desert fishes
which are more similar to marine fishes than to freshwater ones. They also present one of the most ancient and fascinating organisms in the world: microbialites or microbial mats and stromatolites, complex and fully functional ecosystems dominated by bacteria and archaea that deposit calcium carbonate and gypsum, giving rise to hard bodies.

Here some photos of the last field trip:
the not-so-portable molecular lab at the kitchen...









The Eguiarte-Souza Lab sunsetting at the dunes






Twin Ponds' contrasting colours, nearby Pozas Azules...


Dune, sky and cloud from Gypsum Dunes...




Such a strange bunch of people woould only meet at a strange place... Jeiry from Biotechnology Institute, Rafael from UNAM's filmothequem Eugenia and Fernando from Argentina, Me from nowherespecial and Vero from Chile... all at the Gypsum Quarry..


Filming sampling at Rio Mezquites' lunar red ponds...

1 Comment:

Luis D. Alcaraz said...

Errata: Not molecular biology lab... Is not so portable microbiology lab ;)