London Scientists using a remote-controlled submarine have discovered the deepest known volcanic vent and say the superheated waters inside could contain undiscovered marine species and perhaps even clues to the origin of life on earth.
Experts aboard the RRS James Cook said they found the underwater volcanic vent more than three miles beneath the surface of the Caribbean in an area known as the Cayman Trough, a deep-sea canyon that served as the setting for James Cameron’s underwater thriller “The Abyss.”
Geologist Bramley Murton, the submersible’s pilot, said exploring the area was “like wandering across the surface of another world,” complete with spires of multicolored mineral deposits and thick collections of fluorescent blue microorganisms thriving in the slightly cooler waters around the chimneys.
Volcanic vents are areas where sea water seeps into small cracks that penetrate deep into the earth’s crust — some reaching down more than a mile. Temperatures there can reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit, heating the water to the point where it can melt lead.