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email@example.com: Record hotspot found underwater
25 May 2006
Scientists working in the southern Atlantic Ocean have found a 407 °C hydrothermal vent, the hottest yet known on an ocean floor. Although only 5 °C hotter than the previous deep-sea high of 402 °C, recorded in the Pacific Ocean, the new hotspot bumps seawater into the strange state of being a supercritical fluid. Expedition leader Andrea Koschinsky of International University in Bremen, Germany, and her team found the hydrothermal vent, also known as a black smoker, just south of the Equator on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at a depth of 2,990 metres — or 299 bar pressure. At pressures and temperatures above 298 bar and 407 °C, seawater becomes something between a thin liquid and a dense vapour: a supercritical fluid.
Such fluids can diffuse through solids a bit like a gas and dissolve materials more like a liquid. In industrial applications, supercritical carbon dioxide and water are used as solvents thanks to these unusual properties. On the ocean floor, supercritical seawater could dissolve and transport minerals from the surrounding rocks differently than at other hot vents.
A complete chemical analysis of the supercritical fluid won't be possible until the expedition ends in early June and the team returns to land-based laboratories, Koschinsky says. But it is already clear that the water is quite different from that at other vents. "This vent has some very strange chemistry," says Koschinsky. It has very little if any free hydrogen sulphide, for example, which has been found in high concentrations in all other vent samples.
Originally posted by bluecode
im wondering if it has any relation to this:
3. Weekly Report M68/1, 8-14 May, 2006 (pdf file)
With best wishes from the central Atlantic
Andrea Koschinsky and all cruise participants of M68/1