Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Huge New Hydrothermal Vent System Found On Seafloor; Surprise Discovery Dubbed "Lost City"

Date:
December 12, 2000
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A new hydrothermal vent field, which scientists have dubbed "The Lost City," was discovered December 5th on an undersea mountain in the Atlantic Ocean. The unexpected discovery occurred at 30 degrees North on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during an oceanographic cruise aboard the research vessel Atlantis.

A new hydrothermal vent field, which scientists have dubbed "The Lost City," was discovered December 5th on an undersea mountain in the Atlantic Ocean. The unexpected discovery occurred at 30 degrees North on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge during an oceanographic cruise aboard the research vessel Atlantis. A team of scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Duke University, the University of Washington and other institutions conducted the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported expedition. "We thought that we had seen the entire spectrum of hydrothermal activity on the seafloor, but this major discovery reminds us that the ocean still has much to reveal, "says Margaret Leinen, NSF assistant director for geosciences.

Related Articles


"These structures, which tower 180 feet above the seafloor, are the largest hydrothermal chimneys of their kind ever observed," said Deborah Kelley, a University of Washington geologist and co-principal investigator on the cruise.

"If this vent field was on land, it would be a national park," added Duke University structural geologist Jeff Karson, a second co-principal investigator who, along with Kelly, dove in the submersible Alvin to the site.

Perhaps most surprising is that the venting structures are composed of carbonate minerals and silica, in contrast to most other mid-ocean ridge hot spring deposits which are formed by iron and sulfur-based minerals. The low-temperature hydrothermal fluids may have unusual chemistries because they emanate from mantle rocks.

Nothing like this submarine hydrothermal field has ever been previously observed, say the scientists. These events are unique, they believe, because they rest on one-million-year-old ocean crust formed tens of kilometers beneath the seafloor, and because of their incredible size. Dense macrofaunal communities such as clams, shrimps, mussels, and tube worms, which typify most other mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal environments, appear to be absent in this field.

The Lost City Field was discovered unexpectedly while studying geological and hydrothermal processes that built an unusually tall, 12,000-foot-mountain at this site. In this area, deep mantle rocks called serpentinized peridotites, and rocks crystallized in subseafloor magma chambers, have been uplifted several miles from beneath the seafloor along large faults that expose them at the surface of the mountain.

"As so often happens, we were pursuing one set of questions concerning building of the mountain and we stumbled onto a very important new discovery," said Donna Blackman, a geophysicist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and chief scientist of the expedition. She added that "the venting towers are very spectacular and, although they bring up a whole new set of questions, we will learn about the evolution of the mountain itself as we study the vents carefully in the future."

Observations using the submersible Alvin and deep-towed Vehicle Argo, operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, show that the field hosts numerous active and inactive hydrothermal vents. The steep-sided, 180-foot-tall deposits are composed of multiple spires that reach 30 feet in width at their tops. They are commonly capped by white, feathery hydrothermal precipitates. The tops and sides of the massive edifices are awash in fluids that reach temperatures up to 160 degrees.

From the sides of the structures, abundant arrays of delicate, white flanges emerge. Similar to cave deposits, complex, intergrown stalagmites rise several meters above the flange roofs.

Underneath the flanges, trapped pools of warm fluid support dense mats of microbial communities that wave within the rising fluids. Downslope, hundreds of overlapping flanges form hydrothermal deposits reminiscent of hot spring deposits in Yellowstone National Park. During the Alvin dive, expedition leader Patrick Hickey collected rocks, fluids, and biological samples for shorebased analyses.

"By studying such environments, we may learn about ancient hydrothermal systems and the life that they support," suggested Kelley.

For more photos and graphics, see http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/mar.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Huge New Hydrothermal Vent System Found On Seafloor; Surprise Discovery Dubbed "Lost City"." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001212065950.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2000, December 12). Huge New Hydrothermal Vent System Found On Seafloor; Surprise Discovery Dubbed "Lost City". ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001212065950.htm
National Science Foundation. "Huge New Hydrothermal Vent System Found On Seafloor; Surprise Discovery Dubbed "Lost City"." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001212065950.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — A strong cold front moving across the eastern U.S. has dumped deep snow in some regions, creating hazardous conditions from Kentucky to New England. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — Keurig co-founder John Sylvan told The Atlantic he doesn&apos;t even own a Keurig because they&apos;re too expensive and produce too much waste. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, officials said. Graphic video of injured miners being treated in a Donetsk hospital. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins