The BSL Microbial Observatory


    This project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (USA), seeks to understand the purely microbial ecosystem of Boiling Springs Lake, in Lassen Volcanic National Park.   It is a collaborative project between researchers at Humboldt State University, California State University, Chico, and Portland State University that involves many undergraduate, graduate and high school students. 

    Boiling Springs Lake (BSL), the largest hot spring in North America, is a hot (>52˚C, >125˚F), acidic (pH 2.2, similar to lemon juice or stomach acid) lake, about 13,000 square meters (3 acres) in size.  Because of these extreme conditions only microbes can live in this lake.  We have shown, however, that there are many different microbes that do live in the lake and viruses that infect these microbes.

    We use many different methods to determine who lives in the lake and what they are doing there.  One method is the use of a radio-controlled vessel (ROV) to survey the lake and determine its depth and temperature. We also use culture dependent and independent techniques to determine the inhabitants of BSL. Undergraduate students have produced a brochure outlining the structure, chemistry, and biology of this unique lake.  We also have an annual symposium, open to the public, on research at BSL and elsewhere in Lassen Volcanic National Park.


    For our technical NSF project summary click here.


An Integrated Study of Eukaryotic, Prokaryotic, and Viral Diversity and Dynamics in an Acidic Hot Lake