DR KEN MACDONALD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR KEN MACDONALD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Black smoker vent. View from a deep sea vehicle of the billowing black "smoke" being emitted by a hydrothermal vent on the ocean floor. Known as a "black smoker", this sulphurous mineral-rich fluid pours out of a sulphur-encrusted mound or chimney. This volcanic fluid bubbles up due to geothermal energy in the Earth's crust, at a temperature of over 300 degrees Celsius. Deep sea vents provide an unusual habitat that some organisms are able to exploit. Some primitive forms of extremophile bacteria obtain their energy from the sulphur. Deep sea crabs and other marine forms are visible, adapted to the high temperature, pressure, and sulphur concentrations of this environment. Photographed on the East Pacific Rise.
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