The Deep Sea and Hydrothermal Vents

Jessica Motherway & Amy Lamb

Grimpoteuthis, or the Dumbo Octopi can live up to 400 meters into the abyss.

History of the Deep Sea

The first hydrothermal vent was discovered in 1977. Several hydrothermal vents exist in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and along the Mid-Ocean Ridge.

Two types of hydrothermal vents were discovered. There are “black smokers” which are supposed to be the hottest of the two. These black smokers spew out iron and sulfide which gives it the color of black. There are also “white smokers” which have a cooler water temp than their cousins. These smokers spit out barium, calcium and silicon which in the end give it the white color.

Some smokers are known to grow at an intense speed of 30 feet in only 18 months. There is a vent chimney off the coast of Oregon that is known as “Godzilla”. It had reached the height of a 15-story building but unfortunately collapsed. It is now actively rebuilding itself.

Giant Amphipod that can be found at the depths of 500 meters. Other than the orange stomach and retinas of the eyes the creature is completely transparent. 

In order to explore the ocean floor, scientists and physicians had to start somewhere. The first true submarine was constructed by Cornelis Drebbel in 1620. It was composed of wood, iron and leather and could carry up to 12 men. Drebbel made several trips in the Thames River close to England. He sunk to the depth of about 12 to 15 feet. After the submarine, came the first air-replenished diving bell in 1690, the first diving helmet in 1772 and finally the first diving suit in 1797. All of these inventions were big steps to where we are today in our oceanic explorations. 

History of Hydrothermal Vents

Future Expectations

Scientists have yet to learn everything about these underwater geysers. They are said to play a role in the temperature of the ocean along with the chemistry and some circulation patterns of the sea.

Some scientists are amazed by the life formations at these underwater smokers. They believe that the creatures could have the potential of bringing new drugs and medicine to the market along with industrial products and other goods that may be useful to the human population.  

Deep Sea Floor Labels

A. Continental Slope

B. Seamounts

C. Abyssal Plain

D. Mid-ocean Ridge

E. Volcanic Island

F. Continental Shelf

G. Trenches