Hydrothermal Vents Description:
What Are Hydrothermal Vents?:
The water coming out of the vents can reach incredible temperatures of up to 750 degrees F.
Types of Hydrothermal Vents:
Two types of hydrothermal vents are the "black smokers" and "white smokers."
The hottest of the vents, the "black smokers," got their name because they spew a dark "smoke" composed mostly of iron and sulfide, which forms iron monosulfide and gives the smoke its black color. There are also "white smokers," which release a cooler, lighter material composed of compounds including barium, calcium and silicon.
Where Are Hydrothermal Vents Found?:
What Lives in Hydrothermal Vents:
At a hydrothermal vent there is total darkness, toxic chemicals and extreme water pressure. But despite their intimidating description, hydrothermal vents support a wide variety of marine life. But there are bacteria-like organisms called archaea that use a process called chemosynthesis to turn chemicals from the vents into energy. By creating energy, these archaea drive the entire food chain for the hydrothermal vent habitat.
The archaea are used by other animals to generate energy. These animals include tubeworms, clams, mussels, crabs and shrimp. Hundreds of species of animals have been identified in the hydrothermal vent habitats around the world.