Earth: Undersea Seeps, Vents, and Volcanoes

August 31, 2018
CreditNOAA / Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
Historical DateMay 1, 2016
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On Earth, the ocean floor is home to hydrothermal vents that spout hot water, nourishing life in an otherwise inhospitable environment. Scientists think similar vents could exist on other worlds such as Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Original Caption

Hydrothermal vents are places where geologic activity has opened cracks on the ocean floor that produce superheated and chemical-rich water that spews upward, similar to geysers on land.

Where cold, hydrocarbon-rich water escapes from the seafloor, we find "cold seeps." Despite being in areas with no light for sunlight-driven food production, both vent and seep sites support diverse communities of animals that have adapted to produce food using chemical energy, via a process known as chemosynthesis. The videos featured here highlight underwater volcanoes, hydrothermal vents, and cold seeps and the unique geology and biology found during expeditions to these sites.