B. MURTON / SOUTHAMPTON OCEANOGRAPHY CENTRE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY B. MURTON / SOUTHAMPTON OCEANOGRAPHY CENTRE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Black smoker vent. View from the deep-submergence vehicle ALVIN of black "smoke" being emitted by the Spire hydrothermal vent on the ocean floor. Known as a "black smoker", the Spire pours out a sulphurous mineral-rich fluid from its mound or chimney that is 18 metres high. The volcanic fluid bubbles up due to geothermal energy in the Earth's crust, at a temperature of 365 degrees Celsius. Deep sea vents provide an unusual habitat to some primitive forms of extremophile bacteria and deep sea crabs that can survive extreme conditions. The Spire is located at the Broken Spur Vent Field in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 3080m below sea level.
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