Transcript for Mountain Skywater, segment 09 of 12
The San Juans are well-known for rich deposits of silver. But silver occurs not only in veins. Almost every particle of soil in these mountains contains some natural silver. One phase of the ecological study deals with the possible effects of the tiny particles of additional silver that fall with seeded snow. Soil samples are removed and are taken to a laboratory for experiments. A small silver iodide generator provides test material that is added to water in known quantities. Water containing the silver iodide is then dropped slowly onto the soil samples at about the same rate as melting snow. Later the soil samples are treated and tests run to determine how much additional silver the soil absorbed. Soil samples containing silver iodide are also tested to see if the silver traces have any effect on the important microorganisms that live in the ground. So far, the tests with traces of silver show no damage to the microorganisms, but hundreds of tests must be run to be conclusive.