Monster Hydrothermal Field Discovered in the Dark Depths of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Monster Hydrothermal Field Discovered in the Dark Depths of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

A huge field of seafloor hydrothermal vents in the dark depths of the eastern Pacific Ocean is the hottest and largest ever discovered in the region.

Not only that, but it’s a place where scientists didn’t expect to find active vents, never mind their entire system, hundreds of meters from the axis of the volcanic ridge.

Monster Hydrothermal Field Discovered in the Dark Depths of the Eastern Pacific Ocean
Monster Hydrothermal Field Discovered in the Dark Depths of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Monster Hydrothermal Field Discovered in the Dark Depths of the Eastern Pacific Ocean

Scientists say the discovery could have important implications for our understanding of vent systems and their role in marine ecosystems.

The field was discovered by a team of scientists using autonomous underwater vehicles to map the seafloor at depths inaccessible to human explorers.

In data from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s AUV Sentry, the team saw a region of enormous spires, standing three stories below the surface at a depth of 2,560 (8,400 feet) — silent, permanently dark baths.

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in the depths Initially, the team thought the vents had disappeared, but a closer look revealed otherwise. “We were surprised to find that not only was this field very active, but it was larger in area and warmer in actual temperature than any other hydrothermal vent field known along this stretch of the East Pacific Rise.

has been studied for the past 30 years.” says WHOI marine geologist Daniel Fornari. Hydrothermal vents are home to some of the most interesting ecosystems on Earth. These are vents on the seafloor where heat and chemicals are extracted from our planet’s crust, usually associated with volcanic activity.

The vent plumes themselves can be hotter than 400 degrees Celsius (750 Fahrenheit), yet life thrives near them. Most life on Earth relies on a photosynthetic food web, but in the darkness of the bath, life takes a different path.

Chemicals collected by the vents feed a food web based on chemosynthesis, which uses chemical reactions for energy rather than sunlight. Not only is this an amazing testament to “life finds a way,” it also reveals a mechanism by which life could exist on other worlds, such as the icy Solar System moons Enceladus and Europa.

They are likewise vital to the sea overall, giving a vehicle framework from the Earth’s inside that manages sea science and temperature.

But, because they often occur at depths that are not particularly hospitable to humans, our understanding of them is truly incomplete. In general, exploration of hydrothermal vent systems in the eastern Pacific is concentrated near ridge axes and locations of volcanic activity.

Here, a team led by Lehigh University chemical oceanographer Jill McDermott was trying to better map the area west and east of the East Pacific Rise’s axial trough, using Sentry’s sonar to map the sea floor. Three dimensional maps were prepared.

“The arranging work gives a positive image of the sea base so we can screen and assess the movements that will occur along this piece of the East Pacific Rise center during the accompanying volcanic discharge,” McDermott gets a handle on.

It was during this survey that the team observed the peaks of a very large vent field, 750 m east of the ridge axis, and 5 to 7 km north of the nearest known active on-axis vents.

Sampling of nine of the vents revealed a temperature of 368 degrees Celsius, with elements whose presence suggested an even higher actual temperature – at least 437 degrees Celsius for the observed iron-manganese ratio. In total, the field covered the same area as a football field, the team said.

Its vicinity to a separation point recommends that it is constrained by structural action.

Scientists believe that vents can help reseed nearby hydrothermal ecosystems after volcanic eruptions. In recent decades, there have been two explosions in the eastern Pacific Ocean. One from 1991 to 1992, and the other from 2005 to 2006.

That’s expected to happen in another few years, the researchers said. Wider exploration of the deep seafloor could reveal more vent fields in unexpected places, which in turn could further our understanding of how these nearly alien ecosystems work.

“Much remains to be discovered about the deep-sea vents along the global Mediterranean, both in terms of where they are located as well as their geological, geochemical and biological characteristics,” says McDermott. ” says McDermott.

“I hope our study will stimulate future research efforts to target the mapping of off-axis regions along the global mid-ocean ridge to better delineate the extent of off-axis versus on-axis hydrothermal venting.” can be properly corrected.”