Extending SSE from the Lau basin, and part of the "Ring of Fire", we encounter New Zealand. Here, plate tectonic movement, and consequently spreading and fracturing in the Earth's crust, manifests as geothermal springs. Just prior to our research expedition to Lau, several of us visited this geothermal area and sampled some hot springs in collaboration with our colleagues at GNS Science to find and grow a very unusual microbial group; a parasitic/symbiotic group of Archaea called the Nanoarchaeota.
Just three hours south of Auckland within a geothermally active area known as the Taupō Volcanic Zone (TVZ) is the town Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Translated from the Māori language as "The great cloak of Tia", both the town and lake are named after Tia, the Māori chief who discovered the area. Some hotsprings in the TVZ are a gentle 25°C with neutral pH and others boil to the surface, more acidic than battery-acid.
Carlo and Karen, on our research expedition, are members of the GNS Extremophiles laboratory, and are actively studying the geomicrobiology of the New Zealand hot springs. They have helped collect microbiological and geochemical samples for the “1000 Springs Project”; a comprehensive bio-inventory of the microbial diversity of New Zealand’s geothermal ecosystems. To date the Extremophiles laboratory has collected over 42,000 geochemical data points with corresponding microbial community information for each hot-spring. All this information is publicly available in an impressive user friendly and educational website: 1000springs.org.nz.
Contributions from Guy Evans, Jessica Hardwicke and Carlo Carere