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Colonization Dynamics of an Encrusting Cyanobacterial Mat in a Hardwater River (Eaulne, France)

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Many hardwater rivers of the Seine basin (France) have gradually become affected by extensive stromatolite ( sensu Monty 1973) growth during the last 30 years. In some cases, calcareous buildup development is fast enough to cement large sectors of the stream bed. Although static aspects (mineralogy, morphology, microflora) are well known, few attempts have been made so far to understand the dynamics and regulating factors of buildup development.

The formation of an encrusting algal mat was studied from 1996 to 1998 in a hardwater river of Seine-Maritime (France). The structural organization of all stromatolitic buildups was highly homogeneous in all sites. Encrusted microflora settled only on stable, solid substrates and were largely dominated by the cyanobacterial genus Phormidium . Annual dynamics of calcitic structure development closely followed the cyanobacterial microflora growth phases.

The main determining factor of encrusting microflora extension appeared to be river-bed stability. Current velocity seems to play a fundamental part on at least two scales. On the "site scale" (100 m2), the discharge variations determine the spatial distribution of the fine-grained, unstable deposits that cannot host encrusting microflora. On the "substrate scale" (0.1 to 1 m2), the maximum cyanobacterial biomass increases with current velocity. The maximal extension rate measured in the present study showed that a stable, cobble river floor could be cemented by cyanobacterially driven calcareous deposits in 6 to 7 months.


Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire Matériaux—Géologie INSA de Rennes Rennes, Cedex, France 2: Laboratoire Mate´riaux—Ge´ologie INSA de Rennes Rennes, Cedex, France 3: Laboratoire ESNM—UMR 6553 Universite´de Rennes Rennes, Cedex, France

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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