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Ocean floor covered in volcanic vents

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posted on Dec, 8 2005 @ 09:33 PM

Ocean floor covered in volcanic vents

Scientists once thought that deep-sea volcanic vents were a rare and surprising occurrence. But not anymore.

Researchers studying the vents that spew superheated metal and chemicals from the inner Earth and support collections of "extremophile" creatures are finding ocean floors littered with them.

"You can go anywhere in the world's oceans and find these vents," says Christopher German of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

New research shows that these cracks - some only as wide as a person - occur wherever the Earth's tectonic plates meet on the ocean floor. Think of them as the places where the planet's crust is sewn together like a patchwork quilt. The material that seeps out is the stuffing.

And what stuff it is. Iron, copper, zinc and significant amounts of silver and gold, all heated to temperatures that have been measured as high as 752 degrees.

There's a lot more to discover. Scientists have only explored about 10% of the deep-sea mountain chains, says Peter Rona, professor of marine geology at Rutgers University. They look for the vents in the valleys between those mountains.


This is great stuff!!!!

I always wondered how species like tube worms or white crabs appeared at all of these vents unless there was a patchwork for them to hop to and from...

Very cool...

[edit on 9-12-2005 by loam]

posted on Dec, 8 2005 @ 09:54 PM
Yes, they are great.

Btw, they recently discovered some of these in the arctic. They were found at a depth of 600 meters and the water was as hot as 250 degrees Celsius. An oasis featuring "tropical-like coral and unusual plant life". I made a thread in August but I probably should have posted it in this forum instead. They are also known as "black smokers".

World's Northernmost Underwater Hot Springs Found

posted on Dec, 8 2005 @ 10:08 PM
I found some more info about black smokers.

Black smoker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Black smokers were first discovered in 1977 around the Galápagos Islands by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They were observed using a small submersible vehicle called Alvin. Today, black smokers are known to exist in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, at an average depth of 2100 meters. The temperature of the water they vent can reach 400 °C, but does not boil due to the high pressure it is under at that depth. The water is also extremely acidic, often having a pH value as low as 2.8 — approximately that of vinegar.

Deep sea vent biogeochemical cycle diagram

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