top of page

Geology Lecture


Dr. Bruce Fouke

Life on the Edge of Entombment: Microbe Biomineralization in Yellowstone
The survival of Life on Earth through geological time has depended on successful adaptation to, and eventual control of, mineral growth. This process, called biomineralization, has been an essential, unavoidable, and ubiquitously distributed force of nature that has resulted in essential strategic benefits (access to habitable environmental conditions) and profound practical problems (rapid catastrophic entombment) for the heat-loving microbes inhabiting the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park. This presentation will explore the scientific renaissance being driven by the study of microbe biomineralization in Yellowstone, and how this is reframing our basic approach to tackling challenges that face society regarding the environment, energy, medicine, and space exploration.

Dr. Bruce W. Fouke is a professor in Geology, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is Director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center and holds a Health Innovation Professorship in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Mammoth Hot Springs has long served as a natural laboratory for his geobiological studies of life-mineral-mineral interactions. Results have been directly applicable to better understand biomineralization processes in hot spring and coral reef ecosystems, astrobiology, the deep subsurface of the Earth’s crust, Roman aqueducts, and the human body.

Fouke is also the co-author of The Art of Yellowstone Science - Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe.

About the book: "Art and science originate from the same human desire to understand the world within and around us. The Art of Yellowstone Science melds photographic art at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park with the geological and biological sciences to search for common laws of nature through the power of observation and a willingness to embrace the unexpected. This transforms Mammoth into a window on the universe, from which fundamental understandings of nature can be directly applied around the world and throughout the cosmos."

Bruce W. Fouke and Tom Murphy, 2016. The Art of Yellowstone Science - Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe. Crystal Creek Press 300 p.

bottom of page