Hydrothermal Vents & Cold Seeps

Hydrothermal vents and cold seeps are some of the most enigmatic and well known of the deep-sea environments. The discovery of these habitats and their associated life in the 1970s revolutionized our understanding of how and where life can exist on Earth. Vents and seeps are areas where chemical-rich fluid emanates from the deep-sea floor, providing the energy to sustain extensive communities of life in the harsh conditions that exist in the deep sea (no light, very low temperatures and very high pressures). Bacteria create organic carbon via chemosynthesis in the absence of light, using the chemicals in the fluid, in a similar way to plants, which use sunlight at the sea surface for photosynthesis. These microbes use the oxygen in seawater to oxidize the chemicals present in the vent and seep fluids and form the basis of the food chain at these environments. These bacteria form thick white mats or live endosymbiotically (inside) many of the animals that call vents and seeps their home. Vents and seeps are remarkable for their abundance of life and their wealth of species new to science.

I have been fortunate to work at several vent and seep sites including the world’s deepest vents and the most southerly vents. Read more about my the hydrothermal-vent and cold-seep cruises I’ve participated in here, here and here.

Here are some of my research papers on hydrothermal vents and cold seeps:

1. German, C.R., P.A. Tyler, C. McIntyre, D. Amon, M. Cheadle, J. Clarke, B. John, J.M. McDermott, S.A. Bennett, J.A. Huber, J.C. Kinsey, J.S. Seewald, C.L. Van Dover and K. Elliot, 2012. Exploration of the Mid-Cayman Rise. Oceanography 25(1-Supplement): 52-53.  http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/25-1_supplement.pdf

2. Connelly, D.P., J.T. Copley, B.J. Murton, K. Stansfield, P.A. Tyler, C.R. German, C.L. Van Dover, D.J. Amon, M. Furlong, N. Grindlay, N. Hayman, V. Huhnerbach, M. Judge, T. Le Bas, S. McPhail, A. Meier, K. Nakamura, V. Nye, M. Pebody, R. Pedersen, S. Plouviez, C. Sands, R.C. Searle, P. Stevenson, S. Taws and S. Wilcox, 2012. Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world’s deepest seafloor spreading centre. Nature Communications 3: 620-629.  http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n1/full/ncomms1636.html

3. Van Dover, C., K.L.C Bell, L. Marsh, C. German, B. John, M. Cheadle, M. Vecchione, D. Amon, B. Ball, J.T. Copley, C. Smart, S.H. Fuller, B.T. Phillips, K. Cantner, S. Auscavitch and R.D. Ballard, 2014. Exploration of the Mid-Cayman Rise. Oceanography 27(1-Supplement): 32-33. http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/27-1_nautilus.pdf

4. Carey, S., L.C. Bell, C. Roman, F. Dondin, R. Robertson, J. Gobin, S. Wankel, A.P.M. Michel, D.J. Amon, L. Marsh, C. Smart, I. Vaughan, B. Ball, K. Rodrigue, M. Haldeman, A. George and R. Ballard, 2015. Exploring Kick’em Jenny Submarine Volcano and the Barbados Cold Seep Province, Southern Lesser Antilles [in special issue: New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration: The E/V Nautilus 2014 Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Field Season]. Oceanography, 28(1, Supplement): 38-39.  http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/28-1_nautilus.pdf

Hydrothermal vents on the East Scotia Ridge. Photo credit: NERC.

Hydrothermal vents on the East Scotia Ridge. Photo credit: NERC.

Kiwa tyleri at East Scotia Ridge vents. Photo credit: NERC.

Kiwa tyleri at East Scotia Ridge vents. Photo credit: NERC.

Anemones at Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field. Photo credit: NERC

Anemones at Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field. Photo credit: NERC

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Beebe Hydrothermal Vents. Photo credit: NERC.

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Peltospirid gastropod snails at hydrothermal vents on the East Scotia Ridge. Photo credit: NERC.

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Anemones at Beebe Hydrothermal Vents. Photo credit: NERC.

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Rimicaris hybisae at Beebe Hydrothermal Vents. Photo credit: NERC.

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Beebe Hydrothermal Vents. Photo credit: NERC.

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