oh the green moldy formations...

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oh the green moldy formations...

Postby graveleye » Jul 10, 2006 2:37 pm

Two months ago I took the Frozen Niagra tour at Mammoth and got to see a lot of moldy green formations.. pretty sad. I know they cant do much more than just try to turn the lights off after the tour passes, but seems like the mold only needs a few minutrs of light to take hold. Can anything be done to prevent or remove the mold (or algea - whatever it is)?

Incedentally, our guide that day, who shall remain nameless, was rather peeved when we walked into a room to find the lights still on... I think from the previouos day as well because we were the first tour of the day... he tried to keep it to himself, but it was written all over his face that he was a little miffed that someone forgot to turn them out.
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Re: oh the green moldy formations...

Postby NZcaver » Jul 10, 2006 3:16 pm

graveleye wrote:Can anything be done to prevent or remove the mold (or algea - whatever it is)?

To remove the mold - a good old cave cleanup is needed. Last time I did one of those, we used scrubbing brushes, peroxide spray bottles, etc. Of course some may think that cure is worse for the cave than the mold was. Perhaps there are better eco-friendly ways to do it - I'm not sure... :?

To prevent the mold - I'm thinking LED lighting. Expensive to install, but compared to incandescents they are cheaper to run and last a long time. They generates less heat/infrared, so I'd expect there to be a lot less mold growth. Just a thought.
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Postby graveleye » Jul 10, 2006 3:28 pm

I hadnt thought of LED lighting.. but I'm not sure it would help much really... as long green algea/mold is getting a light source to creat chlorophyll, its goign to keep growing.. sort of like in my bathroom. juuust kidding.

I dont know for sure, but I am thinking that its more likely the actual light-source and not the heat generated that is helping the stuff grow.
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Postby NZcaver » Jul 10, 2006 4:20 pm

graveleye wrote:I dont know for sure, but I am thinking that its more likely the actual light-source and not the heat generated that is helping the stuff grow.

Yes and no. It's mainly the infrared content of the light source. Ever heard of LEDs being used in horticultural lamps? No. My understanding is the part of the spectrum most responsible for effective photosynthesis in plants and mold is the "far infrared". LEDs emit minimal to no IR (except IR LEDs, of course!), so they just might be the answer.

One way to find out - submit a proposal for scientific study in the park. Set up some constant-running LED lights for a year or two and see what happens...
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Postby cvr602 » Jul 10, 2006 5:30 pm

They are actually in the process of replacing the lights throughout the tourist section as we speak. it is expected to take quite a while, and you will probably notice that they close down some tours at unknown times.

I was told it was actually the heat from the lights that caused the mold to be able to take hold in the cave.
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Postby Teresa » Jul 10, 2006 6:52 pm

To clean mold/algae in a damp cave: Use the two bucket Chlorine bleach method. Dilute the bleach to about a cup to a gallon of water. WIPE (do not spray) the formation. Then WIPE with clean water and cloth. Then spray with a small amount of clean water.

Yes, I know chlorine bleach is noxious to salamanders, skin breathers etc. which is why it is imperative that you wipe and rinse the formations extremely well afterward.

But it kills algae/mold almost on contact.

I think the jury is still out on LEDs, even though people are trying them out. Even non-IR LEDs get hot...
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Jul 10, 2006 8:12 pm

I was told it was actually the heat from the lights that caused the mold to be able to take hold in the cave.

My high school biology taught me that green means Chlorophyll is present which means that the plant is performing photosynthesis which means that it is getting light. Heat and humidity are also going to be nessicary but they aren't mushrooms right.

On the other hand I wasn't that great at biology. :oops:
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Postby graveleye » Jul 10, 2006 8:46 pm

fuzzy-hair-man wrote:My high school biology taught me that green means Chlorophyll is present which means that the plant is performing photosynthesis which means that it is getting light. Heat and humidity are also going to be nessicary but they aren't mushrooms right.

On the other hand I wasn't that great at biology. :oops:


I got a good grade in biology in college despite the prof who didnt speak English very well :calvin: Thats a chapter I never want to read again haha!!! Of course I've forgotten the details too but you definatly need enough of a certain wavelength of visible light to cause chlorophyll to be produced in plants. No light, no chlorophyll; no chlorophyll, no green. Infrared, or even a red light like a darkroom light would definatly prohibit plant growth, but wouldnt affect mold much. Mold only needs moisture and warmth. I suspect that where you seen green in a cave there is also mold too.
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Postby NZcaver » Jul 10, 2006 9:29 pm

graveleye wrote:Mold only needs moisture and warmth..

--- But hold on! Didn't you just say -
I am thinking that its more likely the actual light-source and not the heat generated that is helping the stuff grow.


I'm thinking the cause is simply the "right" combination of moisture, light and heat. But in truth, biology was never my strong subject. All I know is that hideous growth can result if you leave this problem unchecked...

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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Jul 10, 2006 11:20 pm

Wikipedia and some links from there say this about moulds(molds):
Mold is a growth of these minute fungi forming on vegetable or animal matter, commonly as a downy or furry coating. It is often a sign of decay or dampness.


Mold does require moisture and food. In houses and buildings, this food source is usually some form of cellulose such as wood or cardboard.

So there must be some sort of food all over the formations then... what is it ? animal, human skin particles, ... ? stop that and you would stop the mould then. I wonder if the air flow into and out of the cave has changed from it's natural state. :question:

Active mold can be any color, depending on its species and the substance on which it is growing.


So what I was saying about green stuff is wrong. :oops:

I guess we are assuming it is indeed mould and not some sort of algae, lichen, or moss.... :grin:
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Postby Squirrel Girl » Jul 11, 2006 6:41 am

The green stuff is algae. It requires light. The heat isn't all that significant.

Mold can grow just fine in the dark.
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Postby graveleye » Jul 11, 2006 7:52 am

NZcaver wrote:
graveleye wrote:Mold only needs moisture and warmth..

--- But hold on! Didn't you just say -
I am thinking that its more likely the actual light-source and not the heat generated that is helping the stuff grow.




Yup!
The light makes the green stuff grow.
The heat and moisture makes the mold grow.
They are two totally different animals...er.. plants.. er fungi..whatever!

Looking back, I was too loose with the mold-word starting the thread.

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Postby Teresa » Jul 11, 2006 9:12 am

graveleye wrote:Yup!
The light makes the green stuff grow.
The heat and moisture makes the mold grow.
They are two totally different animals...er.. plants.. er fungi..whatever!

STAFF!! STAFFF!!! Bring in the resident bontanist!!


I don't play a botanist on TV, but I'm married to one.

As I understand it the difference between LED light and incandescent and fluorescent are the shapes of the wavelengths, as well as the wavelengths themselves. It is true that certain plants do prefer certain wavelengths (light temperatures) of artificial lights. (Hence the whole industry around Gro-Lights.) Any gardener knows certain plants are adapted to be in sunny, partly sunny, shady, or full-shade conditions, and woe to you if you put your tropical rainforest understory houseplants in full sun-- or try to grow corn and wheat under the same conditions as African violets in your living room.

There seems to be some research that LED light isn't particularily optimal for some algae. The other reasons caves are interested in LED lighting is the longevity of the diode vs a typical incandescent, (less replacement maintenance--changing lightbulbs is a major show cave maintenane pain), and less draw for the light (smaller electric bill), not to mention that LEDs tend to be tougher than the incandescent bulb. Whether the electronics required can survive in a cave remains to be seen.

It wouldn't surprise me if there are algal-mold symbiotes, and therefore they aren't entirely 'separate plants or fungi'. After all, one of the best-known rock breakers (lichen) is precisely that--an algal/fungi symbiote.
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