Sunday, December 04, 2011
Acid Pit Supports Life?
"The Berkeley Pit, an abandoned open pit copper mine in Butte, Montana — part of the largest Superfund site in the U.S. — is filled with 40 billion gallons of acidic, metal-contaminated water. For years the water was believed to be too toxic to support life, until Andreaand Donald Stierle, a pair of organic chemists at the University of Montana, discovered that the Pit is a rich source of unusual extremophiles, 'many of which have shown great promise as producers of potential anti-cancer agents and anti-inflammatories.' In the course of their ongoing investigation, the two self-described 'bioprospectors' have also discovered an uncommon yeast, which might play a significant role in cleaning up the site. In the meantime, the Pit has become a tourist attraction in Butte, which charges $2 for the opportunity to take in the view from the Viewing Stand."