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The Ecosystems that Thrive in Hydrothermal Vents

The Ecosystems that Thrive in Hydrothermal Vents

Some 7,500 feet below the ocean’s surface lies a intriguing and bizarre world unlike any other. Large black volcanoes tower above the ocean floor spouting out poisonous black gas into freezing cold waters and blind crabs roam endlessly in pitch darkness. These intolerable conditions could only mean one thing, hydrothermal vents. These mystical giants of the deep have stumped some of the worlds greatest scientists who have only recently discovered that they may hold the potential key to some of the worlds great scientific mysteries such as how an ecosystem can survive with out sunlight and the possible origin of life. Only by studying and understanding hydrothermal vents will we be able to start to unlock some of these puzzles.

In discovering hydrothermal vents, many more questions arose. One of which relates to the excruciating circumstances organisms that inhabit these vent sites survive under. This includes how they are able to withstand poisonous toxins, unbearable temperatures, outstanding pressure, possess the ability to gather food and reproduce effectively. One of the finest examples of these amazing organisms is the tube worm. But before we tackle the many questions surrounding this unusual creature it is best to understand the environment it thrives in.

History of Hydrothermal Vents

Recently scientists began an in depth study on the potential existence of hot water vents. While the existence of the mid ocean ridges were known, some believed a similar type of vent resided that was supported by a hydrothermal system. From as early as 1972 scientists began taking water samples that indicated the presence of these hot water vents (Chu). Using this technique scientists gained strong evidence that one of these vents was sitting along the Galapagos Rift. On an expedition in 1977 a group of scientist fell upon a colossal discovery that gave proof to the outlandish theory (Chu). Using a submersible named Alvin researchers were able to view the sea floor from the ocean’s surface through photographs. They were in for a tremendous suprize. Not only did Alvin reveal the presence of hydrothermal vents but of a whole ecosystem of life. This essential discovery shocked and dumbfounded scientists all over the world. For the next two years Alvin would journey back to vent sites to get a better understanding of their existence. In 1979 this amazing sub captured another intriguing image. A 65 foot, chimney...

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Category:   Biology

Length:   9 pages (2,086 words)

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