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Hypothermal Vents

  • Date Submitted: 07/24/2011 04:22 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.7 
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Hydrothermal Vents
Hydrothermal Vents are completely isolated from the world of lights; whole communities of organisms (creatures) live in places where warm water flows from chimneys in the ocean floor. These vents are found in some of the deepest places in the ocean, far beyond the reach of normal submarines or divers. Hydrothermal vents are formed where two oceanic plates pull apart and erupting lava replaces the sea floor. In these areas, extremely hot, mineral-rich fluid flows out from underneath the ocean floor's surface. The hot fluid flows into very cold water, usually 750F, and cools down quickly. The cooled minerals in the fluid settle around the vent opening creating chimney-like formations. Some chimneys have been known to grow as tall as 4 miles. Cold seeps are areas similar to hydrothermal vents. Though the cold seep waters are about the same temperature as the surrounding waters, they are called cold seeps in contrast to the extremely hot fluids from hydrothermal vents. The cold seeps support organisms similar to the hydrothermal vents though the exact make-up of the biological community surrounding them depends on the chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, methane, iron, manganese and silica, found in the cold-seep fluid.
Although hydrothermal vents are what we would consider a harsh environment, they are abundant with life. As long as the vents remain active, which is usually one to two years, animals thrive there. In fact, more than 300 species live around the vents and are unique to this type of environment. These creatures, including; tubeworms, fish, crabs, shrimp, clams, anemones and chemosynthetic bacteria, have learned to survive the complete darkness, the extremely hot vent water and the tremendous water pressure. At such depths, sunlight is unable to penetrate and allow plants to photosynthesize. Thus, they cannot be the basis of the food chain as they are for us and for every other creature with which we normally come in contact. Animals...

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