British researchers say the discovery of deep-sea volcanic vents in the Antarctic’s Southern Ocean suggests they’re more common than previously thought.
Deep-sea vents are hot springs on the seafloor, where mineral-rich water nourishes colonies of microbes and animals. Around 250 such vents have been discovered worldwide in the three decades since scientists first encountered them in the Pacific.
Most have been found on a chain of undersea volcanoes called the mid-ocean ridge but very few are known in the Antarctic, a release from the U.K. National Oceanography Center said Monday.
Scientists aboard the Royal Research Ship James Cook, using an underwater camera system, found slender 10-foot-tall mineral towers with shimmering hot water gushing from their peaks, and gossamer-like white mats of bacteria coating their sides.
“When we caught the first glimpse of the vents, the excitement was almost overwhelming,” Leigh Marsh, a University of Southampton doctoral student, said. The vents were found at a depth of 1,700 feet in a newly discovered seafloor crater close to the South Sandwich Islands, a remote group of islands about 300 miles southeast of South Georgia.
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum.
Other support options include Patreon pledges, one-off payments using PayPal and purchasing products from our webshop.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.