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Cave paintings of Lascaux, covered on dangerous fungus

  • 08-06-2012 4:42am
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,279 Mod ✭✭✭✭

    Unfortunately, there isn´t much that can be done. The article is in Spanish, this time I was lazy and used Google translate:

    "The interior of the cave paintings are a nest of pathogens that proliferate in a fragile environment. Lascaux caves, with paintings and engravings of more than 17,500 years could be destroyed if continues to intervene in them as has been done so far, according to a new study led by scientists at the National Research Council (CSIC).

    A team of Spanish researchers has discovered in Lascaux, which in the past decade its leaders used a biocide to kill molds that did just the opposite: the bacteria proliferated and now seriously endanger their future. Specifically, they have found that are emerging fungi that stain dangerously many of the 19,000 figures painted and engraved on its walls and roof.

    The Lascaux caves were discovered in the 40's. Between 1948 and 1963 were open to the public, receiving an average of 1,800 visitors a day. For the year 63, the lights had generated so much algae that seem to have been dyed green. Closed, and so continue.

    However, it continued to intervene in and in 2001 there was an outbreak of white spots caused by the fungus Fusarium solani '. To kill it, we used an aggressive biocide benzalkonium chloride as well as antibiotics and quicklime. Within months, he had black spots on the walls, as recalled by the CSIC researcher Cesareo Saiz, who has published his work in the journal Environmental Science and Tecnhnology '.

    For 2006, the black spots spread throughout the cave, which is still a threat, according to Saiz, and thus applied in 2008 a new biocide treatment only served to worsen the situation, as it was very similar to the above. "What has been done is to promote the diversity of fungi, which remain the most resistant to biocides," said the expert

    Thus, if in the past and had found that the black spots produced two new species ('Ochroconis lascauxensis' and 'Ochroconis anomala'), now is the fungi that colonize the walls are now black yeasts of the family 'Herpotrichiellaceae' and the species 'Acremonium nepalense', different from 2008 and 2011.
    Preventive conservation

    The problem is there is no easy solution. "The proposals I have made are in one sense: prevention, which is what has worked in Altamira," says Saiz. You can not use biocides, which generate new problems, but clean outdoor areas so that organic matter does not enter inside the cave, ie, nutrients that serve the mushrooms.

    And outside of Lascaux is a forest, should be thoroughly cleared sediments and also prevent entry of volatile elements and, of course, people without systematic monitoring. Saiz recalls that Altamira is a comprehensive microclimate and microbiological monitoring and disposal vegetaación is mowed inside and controls the water that seeps inside.

    In addition, CSIC researcher points out that these fungi do not cease to be pathogenic. In a paper published in the journal 'International Journal of Speleology' and warned that people who visit caves should be careful, especially children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. "I always go in with masks," he says.

    In 2010, there were already described 34 new pathogenic bacteria in caves around the world."