The reds, oranges, yellows, and greens that paint the hot spring's pools and streams are actually heat-loving (thermophilic_ microscopic life forms (microbes). Microbes which include algae, are visible when vast numbers cluster together. The clusters may form mats in and on top of the water or long, flexible strands called "streamers." The dissolved minerals in the water and its high temperatures create the perfect environment for colorful microbes.
As water flows away from the Big Spring and cools, the algal mats' color changes. This is due to the different species of algae that are unique in color and have adapted to survive in specific temperature ranges.
Microbes Worth Studying
Many scientists believe that life on Earth started roughly three billion years ago in watery, high-temperature environments and that the first life form might have been primitive thermophiles. This theory not only gives us insight into the origin of life on Earth, it also opens up the possibility of discovering life on other planets.
The heat resistant enzymes in the algae are also the subject of studies related to biofuel production, and have led to discoveries advancing the field of medicine.