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New Technology For New Exploration Of Hydrothermal Vents

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  • Pat Neuman
    New Technology For New Exploration Of Hydrothermal Vents Woods Hole MA (SPX) Dec 07, 2005 Advances in undersea imaging systems, the development of new vehicles
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2005
      New Technology For New Exploration Of Hydrothermal Vents


      Woods Hole MA (SPX) Dec 07, 2005
      Advances in undersea imaging systems, the development of new
      vehicles and instruments, and improved seafloor mapping capabilities
      have enabled scientists to explore areas of the deep sea in
      unprecedented detail. One such area is the TAG hydrothermal mound in
      the North Atlantic Ocean, one of the largest known mineral deposits
      on the seafloor.
      Rob Reves-Sohn , a geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic
      Institution, will discuss some of the technological advances and
      present some recent imagery collected at the TAG hydrothermal vent
      during a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union
      meeting in San Francisco. TAG, for Trans Atlantic Geotraverse, is on
      the Mid-Atlantic Ridge about 1,900 miles east of Miami at 26°8'N and
      44°49'W more than two miles below the ocean's surface.

      Since hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977 on the Galapagos
      Rift in the eastern Pacific Ocean, vent sites have been found on the
      mid-ocean ridge around the world. New sites are found each year,
      each with unique animal communities and geological/geochemical
      features. TAG was among the first to be found in the North Atlantic
      20 years ago.

      Using two-dimensional maps produced from data collected by a
      research vessel, Reves-Sohn and colleagues produced computer
      animations of the TAG site, enabling scientists to view it from
      different perspectives. Images of the mound and smokers were taken
      by cameras mounted on the three-person submersible Alvin, operated
      by WHOI for the American ocean research community.

      For centuries, people have mined copper, gold and precious metals on
      land from mineral deposits that many believe formed on the ocean
      floor. At the TAG vent site, a superheated mixture of seawater and
      toxic chemicals hot enough to melt lead billows out of the seafloor.
      This fluid, driven by heat from molten magma deep below the earth's
      crust, erupts into clouds or plumes that rise nearly 1,000 feet
      above the ocean bottom. Chemical reactions occurring as this hot
      fluid mixes with cold seawater cause the formation of chimney-like
      structures called "black smokers." These freestanding chimneys,
      which commonly reach heights of 100 feet or more, contain minerals
      similar to those mined on land.

      Related Links
      Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

      http://www.terradaily.com/news/ocean-tech-05e.html
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