Taxonomy term

hydrothermal vent

Skate eggs found on hydrothermal vents

In July 2016, a team of scientists came upon a surprise 1,660 meters beneath the ocean’s surface near the Galápagos Islands: a clutch of yellow eggs, laid by a Pacific white skate, a cousin of rays and sharks. It was not the eggs themselves that surprised the team, but where they were found: near a volcanic hydrothermal vent. The large number of eggs at the site led the team to suggest that the skate was likely using the vent’s heat to incubate the eggs.

11 Jun 2018

Down to Earth With: Deep-sea biologist Stace Beaulieu

People often find their way to the geosciences after a college class sparks their interest. But not Stace Beaulieu, a senior research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Mass. — she knew what she wanted to do at age 6. Beaulieu grew up in Florida and spent her childhood snorkeling and reading science magazines with pictures of deep-sea creatures that tantalized her imagination and piqued her curiosity. “I had a one-track mind pretty much from elementary school through grad school — I never changed my mind. I was so excited about learning about what was deeper. I still am today.”

02 Nov 2017

Six new deep-sea species discovered

About 2,000 kilometers southeast of Madagascar and 2.8 kilometers below the surface of the Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered six never-before-seen animal species living around deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The creatures were spotted by a remotely operated vehicle during an expedition in 2011 to a site called Longqi, or “Dragon’s Breath,” around which stand mineralized vent chimneys — some more than two stories tall — that are rich in copper and gold. Genetic testing confirmed the novelty of the animals, which include new species of polychaete worms and limpets as well as a previously unknown species of hairy-chested “Hoff” crab, named for actor David Hasselhoff.

11 Apr 2017

The softer side of hydrothermal vents

Seafloor chimneys belching dark plumes of superheated, acidic fluids into the ocean, called “black smokers,” are the most common kind of submarine hydrothermal vent known. But recently scientists discovered a vent system, of a seemingly gentler nature, unlike any observed before.

21 Apr 2016

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Down to Earth With: Peter Brewer

Whether through deep-sea gas hydrate experiments, lasers or asphyxiating squid, Peter Brewer is always seeking new ways to understand the changing chemistry of the oceans. Brewer has embarked on a series of groundbreaking projects throughout his career. During his nearly 24 years at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he was the chief architect of the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study, launched by the United States in the late 1980s to track the cycling of carbon and other chemical elements between the atmosphere, oceans and seafloor — and to understand human impacts on these cycles.

25 Sep 2009