Whats a hydrothermal vent?

Asked by: Jaycee Koelpin
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A hydrothermal vent is a fissure on the seafloor from which geothermally heated water discharges. Hydrothermal vents are commonly found near volcanically active places, areas where tectonic plates are moving apart at spreading centers, ocean basins, and hotspots.

What is a hydrothermal vent and why are they important?

Hydrothermal vents act as natural plumbing systems that transport heat and chemicals from the interior of the Earth and that help regulate global ocean chemistry. In the process, they accumulate vast amounts of potentially valuable minerals on the seafloor.

What lives in a hydrothermal vent?

Animals such as scaly-foot gastropods (Chrysomallon squamiferum) and yeti crabs (Kiwa species) have only been recorded at hydrothermal vents. Large colonies of vent mussels and tube worms can also be found living there. In 1980, the Pompeii worm (Alvinella pompejana) was identified living on the sides of vent chimneys.

What is a hydrothermal vent How does it support life?

Hydrothermal vent communities are able to sustain such vast amounts of life because vent organisms depend on chemosynthetic bacteria for food. The water from the hydrothermal vent is rich in dissolved minerals and supports a large population of chemoautotrophic bacteria.

31 related questions found

How old are hydrothermal vents?

Many scientists think life got its start around 3.7 billion years ago in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

How much life is present at a deep sea hydrothermal vent?

Since hydrothermal vents were first discovered in 1977, scientists have identified over 300 animal species living at them. Ninety-five percent of these are unique to the vent environment, and thus were previously unknown. Some, like the tube worms, are not closely related to anything else.

What do hydrothermal vents look like?

Deep hydrothermal vents are like hot springs on the sea floor where mineral-rich, hot water flows into the otherwise cold, deep sea. ... These so-called white or black smokers look like chimneys, constantly blowing 'smoke' up from the sea floor.

How many hydrothermal vents are there?

The team found 184 hydrothermal vents for 1470 kilometers of ocean floor, or one vent every 2 to 20 kilometers, according to research published online in Earth and Planetary Science Letters . That's far greater than the one vent for every 12 to 220 kilometers that used to be the norm, they reported.

What are the 6 biogeographic provinces of hydrothermal vent communities?

Hydrothermal vent biogeographic provinces include the Northeast Pacific (Gorda, Juan de Fuca, and Explorer Ridge systems); Eastern Pacific (East Pacific Rise and Galapagos spreading center systems); Western Pacific (Mariana, Lau, Fiji, and Manus systems); Deep Atlantic (or Mid-Atlantic) (Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG ...

How did hydrothermal vents create life?

By creating protocells in hot, alkaline seawater, a research team has added to evidence that the origin of life could have been in deep-sea hydrothermal vents rather than shallow pools. ... Some of the world's oldest fossils, discovered by a UCL-led team, originated in such underwater vents.

How long do hydrothermal vents last?

They become inactive when seafloor-spreading moves them away from the rising magma or when they become clogged. Some vent fields may remain active for 10,000 years, but individual vents are much shorter-lived.

What sediment deposit is most commonly found around hydrothermal vents?

The precipitation of dissolved chemicals from seawater. These kinds of sediments are found commonly near hydrothermal vents. Cosmogenous sediments are probably the most interesting of all four kinds of sediment because they are alien in nature. These kinds of sediments are carried to earth on meteorites or asteroids.

How do you find a hydrothermal vent?

Like hot springs and geysers on land, hydrothermal vents form in volcanically active areas—often on mid-ocean ridges, where Earth's tectonic plates are spreading apart and where magma wells up to the surface or close beneath the seafloor.

What is the relationship between thermocline and hydrothermal vents?

Thermocline of the tropical ocean. The two areas of greatest temperature gradient in the oceans are the transition zone between the surface waters and the deep waters, the thermocline, and the transition between the deep-sea floor and the hot water flows at the hydrothermal vents.

Why are hydrothermal vents an extreme environment?

The deep-sea hydrothermal vents are located along the volcanic ridges and are characterized by extreme conditions such as unique physical properties (temperature, pression), chemical toxicity, and absence of photosynthesis. ... In these environments many microorganisms are adapted to high temperatures.

Why might hydrothermal vents be so difficult to find?

The search for new hydrothermal vents is difficult because areas just a few tens to a hundred metres in size must be found within the vast ocean. For this search, marine scientists usually employ sensors lowered from the ship on a steel cable. ... The torpedoshaped AUVs are also equipped with these sensors.

How do you make a hydrothermal vent model?

  1. Fill the large glass container with very cold water.
  2. Tie one end of the string around the neck of the small bottle.
  3. Fill the small bottle with hot water and add a few drops of food coloring.
  4. Keeping the small bottle upright, carefully lower it into the glass container until it rests on the bottom.

Which three metals are found around hydrothermal vents?

Within the hydrothermal vents are seafloor massive sulfides (SMS), whereby the vents create sulfide deposits containing valuable metals such as silver, gold, manganese, cobalt, and zinc.

What is the temperature range of a hydrothermal vent?

Hydrothermal vents are considered one of the most extreme and dynamic environments on Earth, with temperatures ranging from 4 to 400°C, high pressure conditions, a complete absence of light, and abrupt chemical and pH gradients [23].

How do animals survive near hydrothermal vents?

Organisms that live around hydrothermal vents don't rely on sunlight and photosynthesis. Instead, bacteria and archaea use a process called chemosynthesis to convert minerals and other chemicals in the water into energy.

Which hydrothermal vent has the highest temperature?

Lying more than 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) below the surface, the Pescadero Basin vents are the deepest high-temperature hydrothermal vents ever observed in or around the Pacific Ocean. They are also the only vents in the Pacific known to emit superheated fluids rich in both carbonate minerals and hydrocarbons.

Do hydrothermal vents release o2?

Many mesophilic microbes in the hydrothermal vent environment use H2S as an energy source. ... At the base of their tubes, hydrothermal fluid is enriched in H2S and CO2, but is devoid of oxygen. The respiratory plume is extended into the ambient (2°C), oxygen-enriched bottom water.

Are hydrothermal vents toxic?

Hydrothermal vents are where the hot, toxic vent fluids from the upflow zone are spewed from oceanic crust into the surrounding seawater. ... Diffuse flows form in areas where vent fluids mix with cold seawater before exiting the seafloor.

Which valuable metals are found around hydrothermal vents?

Deep-sea hydrothermal vent systems are attracting considerable interest from commercial mining companies. Vent systems precipitate seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits that are rich in copper, gold, silver, and zinc.