A new type of hydrothermal vent with massive eerie mounds was discovered by researchers in the Deep Caribbean Sea.
In the Von Damm Vent Field – which is located on the Cayman Islands – hydrothermal vents consist of talc, a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate (it is a common ingredient in baby powder), compared with other hydrothermal vents that are usually made of sulfide minerals.
Matthew Hodgkinson, a postgraduate scientist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom who worked on the new research, said that the fauna seen on the vent site is quite similar to that found at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a plate boundary situated along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. However, the chemistry and minerals at the Von Damm Vent Field are significantly different from other known vents, Hodgkinson added.
A hydrothermal vent can be described as a fissure in Earth’s surface. They can be seen in areas where tectonic plates pull our planet’s crust apart. The water in the crust is heated by magma, dissolving existing minerals into seawater. Snails, tube worms, and eels, can often be spotted near these site that are rich in nutrients.
The Von Damm Vent Field was discovered in 2010. The Mid-Cayman Spreading Center –an area that is tectonically active – is where the hydrothermal vents are located. Talc mounds which are about 246 feet (75 metres) tall, cover the seafloor.
Scientists said that the vent system was a lot hotter than they expected it to be. About five hundred megawatts of heat are transferred into the surrounding water by the vents.
In a new report – published December 22 in the journal Nature Communications –researchers stated that water flows from the vents at a rate of 1,100 pounds (five hundred kilograms) per second, and it is 392 degrees Fahrenheit hot (two hundred degrees Celsius).
Eerie chimney structures are formed when the hot subsurface comes in contact with the ocean floor and the dissolved minerals precipitate out. The ‘chimneys’ in the Von Damm Vent Field are mostly made out of talk: about 85 to 95 percent of their volume. The rest of the vent’s volume is made of sulfide minerals and silica (silicon dioxide).
Various snail species and shrimps crowd the Van Damm Vent Field – situated 7,546 feet (2.3 kilometres) below the ocean surface. The deepest vent ever discovered is the Beebe Venit Fiels – located at 16,273 feet (4. 93 kilometres) below the surface, and much like other vents it is home to deep-sea creatures, like the sea anemones.
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