Hydrothermal vents

Hydrothermal vents

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Credit: GARY HINCKS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Hydrothermal vents. Cutaway artwork showing the features of underwater hydrothermal vents (black smokers) found at mid-ocean ridges. Black smokers are seabed vents where magma (molten rock) near the surface heats water in the rock (from the ocean, blue arrows) to extremely high temperatures. The hot water (red arrows) dissolves a large quantity of mineral salts. When the superheated water meets the cold surrounding water, the minerals rapidly precipitate out, giving the hot water its characteristic smoky appearance. The minerals form tall chimneys of crusts around the vent (layers shown here).

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