A Microbial observatory at Zodletone Spring



Welcome to the website of Zodletone spring NSF microbial observatory. Zodletone      spring is located at the south western part of the state of Oklahoma, approximately a hundred and twenty miles from Oklahoma City (See map). The spring is present at Caddo County and nestled in the bases of the Anadarko Mountains in Oklahoma. Zodletone spring is an artesian spring, which is in essence a low temperature sulfide rich and strictly anaerobic hydrocarbon seep.


Multiple factors make Zodletone spring an extremely interesting research site for geologists, microbial ecologists, and environmental microbiologists. A team of scientists from the state of Oklahoma two leading universities (University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University) has been conducting research on the unique microbial community at the spring since 2001.

The team is greatly indebted to the generous funding received through the national microbial observatories and microbial interaction program.

This site is intended to give an overall view of the scientific research and outreach efforts in this project. We hope the site would be of interest to fellow scientists, prospective graduate students, undergraduate students (At OU or OSU), and high school students (from the state of Oklahoma) interested to join our team and conduct research on the spring. Please feel free to contact us at OU or OSU if you have any questions.

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Created by Michael Morrison


We have established an NSF supported Microbial Observatory at Zodletone Mountain in western Oklahoma. This is the site of a sulfur and methane bearing spring. Springwater containing high levels of sulfide and methane runs down the site of the mountain creating a microbial mat environment, rich in microbial diversity with a unique group of microbial and geochemical processes. This environment has many similarities to environments that existed during the time period close to 2 billion (2 x 109) years before present. At that time, oxygen was absent from the earth's atmosphere, sulfur transformations were likely more common and methane was more abundant. As such, this ecosystem allows us to better understand the biology and biogeochemistry of the early earth.

We are currently studying the microbial populations of this spring and have discovered a vast diversity of Bacteria and Archaea living there. We are also looking at microbial processes to understand the roles of microorganisms in sulfur and petroleum hydrocarbon metabolism in the spring. In the future microbial isolates will be characterized in order to better understand those processes.