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Springs and Geysers

Hot water can flow to the surface at a hot spring or erupt as a geyser.

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Discovering Hydrothermal Vents

Discovering Hydrothermal Vents


Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blacksmoker_in_Atlantic_Ocean.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

In 1977, geologists were testing a hypothesis. They thought that since there is active volcanism on a mid-ocean ridge and a lot of seawater, there should also be geysers. They weren’t prepared for the amazing life forms they discovered at those hydrothermal vents!

Amazing But True!

  • The first hydrothermal vents were discovered in the Pacific Ocean, 250 miles off of the Galapagos. They have since been found at spreading ridges worldwide.
  • The first view of hydrothermal vent life was seen in footage taken by a camera mounted on the submersible Alvin.
  • Hydrothermal vent ecosystems are entirely independent of photosynthesis.
  • Credit: A. D. Rogers et al.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dense_mass_of_anomuran_crab_Kiwa_around_deep-sea_hydrothermal_vent.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Group of Anomura crabs surround a deep-sea hydrothermal vent [Figure2]

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With the links below, learn more about hydrothermal vents. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How does the water at a hydrothermal vent site get hot?
  2. What are the rock chimneys made of and how do they form?
  3. Hydrothermal vent organisms live in total darkness. What do they use for energy?
  4. Why are the creatures found at hydrothermal vents so different from creatures found at the surface?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blacksmoker_in_Atlantic_Ocean.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: A. D. Rogers et al.; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dense_mass_of_anomuran_crab_Kiwa_around_deep-sea_hydrothermal_vent.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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