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Deep Sea Vents Wonders of the Underwater

Wonders of the World :: --Ancient 7 Wonder||Medieval 7 Wonder||Modern 7 Wonder||Natural 7 Wonder||Wonder of Underwater||Wonder of Industrial||Wonder didn't know Existed||Human with Diffrent||20 Strange Place's||

Seven Wonders of the Underwater World :: -- 1.Palau|| 2.Belize Barrier Reef|| 3.Great Barrier Reef|| 4.Deep-Sea Vents|| 5.Galapagos Islands|| 6.Lake Baikal|| 7.Northern Red Sea||

Deep Sea Vents

Using an underwater camera system, the researchers saw slender mineral spires three metres tall, with shimmering hot water gushing from their peaks, and gossamer-like white mats of bacteria coating their sides. The vents are at a depth of 520 metres in a newly-discovered seafloor crater close to the South Sandwich Islands, a remote group of islands around 500 kilometres south-east of South Georgia.

"When we caught the first glimpse of the vents, the excitement was almost overwhelming," says Leigh Marsh, a University of Southampton PhD student who was on scientific watch at the time of the discovery.

Deep-sea vents are hot springs on the seafloor, where mineral-rich water nourishes lush colonies of microbes and deep-sea animals. In the three decades since scientists first encountered vents in the Pacific, around 250 have been discovered worldwide. Most have been found on a chain of undersea volcanoes called the mid-ocean ridge, however, and very few are known in the Antarctic.

"We're finding deep-sea vents more rapidly than ever before," says expedition leader Professor Paul Tyler of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science, which is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. "And we're finding some in places other than at mid-ocean ridges, where most have been seen before."

By studying the new vents, the team hope to understand more about the distribution and evolution of life in the deep ocean, the role that deep-sea vents play in controlling the chemistry of the oceans, and the diversity of microbes that thrive in different conditions beneath the waves.

The researchers were exploring 'Adventure Caldera', a crater-like hole in the seafloor three kilometres across and 750 metres deep at its deepest point. Despite its size, Adventure Caldera was only discovered last year by geophysicists from the British Antarctic Survey.

The new vents are the fourth set to be discovered around Antarctica in three expeditions since 2009. Their discovery is part of a project funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which involves researchers from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, the Universities of Southampton, Newcastle, Oxford, Bristol and Leeds, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US.

Hydrothermal vent

A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet's surface from which geothermally heated water issues. Hydrothermal vents are commonly found near volcanically active places, areas where tectonic plates are moving apart, ocean basins, and hotspots. Hydrothermal vents exist because the earth is both geologically active and has large amounts of water on its surface and within its crust. Common land types include hot springs, fumaroles and geysers. Under the sea, hydrothermal vents may form features called black smokers. Relative to the majority of the deep sea, the areas around submarine hydrothermal vents are biologically more productive, often hosting complex communities fueled by the chemicals dissolved in the vent fluids. Chemosynthetic archaea form the base of the food chain, supporting diverse organisms, including giant tube worms, clams, limpets and shrimp. Active hydrothermal vents are believed to exist on Jupiter's moon Europa, and ancient hydrothermal vents have been speculated to exist on Mars.

Black smokers and white smokers

Some hydrothermal vents form roughly cylindrical chimney structures. These form from minerals that are dissolved in the vent fluid. When the super-heated water contacts the near-freezing sea water, the minerals precipitate out to form particles which add to the height of the stacks. Some of these chimney structures can reach heights of 60 m. An example of such a towering vent was "Godzilla", a structure in the Pacific Ocean near Oregon that rose to 40 m before it fell over.
A black smoker or sea vent is a type of hydrothermal vent found on the seabed, typically in the abyssal and hadal zones. They appear as black chimney-like structures that emit a cloud of black material. The black smokers typically emit particles with high levels of sulfur-bearing minerals, or sulfides. Black smokers are formed in fields hundreds of meters wide when superheated water from below Earth's crust comes through the ocean floor. This water is rich in dissolved minerals from the crust, most notably sulfides. When it comes in contact with cold ocean water, many minerals precipitate, forming a black chimney-like structure around each vent. The metal sulfides that are deposited can become massive sulfide ore deposits in time.
Black smokers were first discovered in 1977 on the East Pacific Rise by scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They were observed using a deep submergence vehicle called Alvin belonging to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Now black smokers are known to exist in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, at an average depth of 2100 metres. The most northerly black smokers are a cluster of five named Loki's Castle, discovered in 2008 by scientists from the University of Bergen at 73 degrees north, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Greenland and Norway. These black smokers are of interest as they are in a more stable area of the Earth's crust, where tectonic forces are less and consequently fields of hydrothermal vents are less common. The world's deepest black smokers are located in the Cayman Trough, 5,000 m (3.1 miles) below the ocean's surface.
White smokers are vents that emit lighter-hued minerals, such as those containing barium, calcium, and silicon. These vents also tend to have lower temperature plumes. These alkaline hydrothermal vents also continuously generate acetyl thioesters, providing both the starting point for more complex organic molecules and the energy needed to produce them, Microscopic structures in such alkaline vents "show interconnected compartments that provide an ideal hatchery for the origin of life".