Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deepest Hydrothermal vents discovered

A research team from the James Cook, a British run research vessel working in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean, have discovered the world’s deepest undersea vents; almost 5km below the surface.

Using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) named ISIS, the research team accidentally discovered the vents, some which are 10m high. 

Hydrothermal vents in our oceans have been known since the 1970s at locations including the Southern Ocean and the Atlantic. They were first discovered in the Cayman Trough around 3 years ago. Previous to the discovery by ISIS, the world’s deepest known set of hydrothermal vents was a system called Beebe, also in the Cayman Trough.

Water from the vents was recorded at 410 degrees Celsius, one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded at a deep sea vent. This extremely hot water is expelled from the vents into the surrounding ocean water that has a temperature of only 4 degrees just a few centimeters from the vent. The area where these waters meet is a biologist’s dream; a unique ecosystem.

Eventually scientists involved with this research hope to be able to answer the question;
"why and how life evolved in such a seemingly hostile environment."




Image: NOAA- Black smoker in the Atlantic Ocean

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