DR KEN MACDONALD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR KEN MACDONALD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Black smoker hydrothermal vents. These are geologically active seabed vents where magma (molten rock) near the surface heats water in the rock to extremely high temperatures, well over 100 degrees Celsius. This vent is on the bottom of the ocean, thousands of metres deep. The water is prevented from boiling by the immense pressure at this depth. The hot water contains large quantities of dissolved mineral salts. When the superheated water meets the very cold surrounding water, the minerals rapidly precipitate out, giving the hot water its characteristic smoky appearance. The minerals form multicoloured crusts around the vent, which grow into tall chimneys over time. Photographed on the East Pacific Rise.
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