The structure and microbiology of active travertines is described from Canary and Minerva springs, with emphasis on ‘shrubs’ growing in terracette pools. These dendritic growths of aragonite consist of intricately branched sprays containing thousands of radiating needles. Shrub microstructure could be explained by the principle of ‘Keimauslese” and the preferential elongation of sharp protuberances in a rapidly depositing environment.
The shrubs, and other active travertines, contain unicellular and filamentous bacteria. Estimates of total bacteria numbers ranged from 0.6−1.7 × 105 mm−3 but biomass was low, and always less than 1% of the travertine by weight. No evidence was found to indicate that bacteria played a role in shrub growth or morphology, but crystal trapping on bacterial strings may influence travertine fabrics on cascades. The shrubs are considered to have developed by inorganic processes, in hot spring waters supersaturated with aragonite.