Volcanoes and Vents: A Hidden World Beneath the Sea
Most of Earth’s volcanoes are on the bottom of the ocean, in a vast volcanic chain that circles the globe. Here, the ocean crust-two-thirds of Earth’s surface—is created. As tectonic plates spread apart and molten rock rises to erupt on the ocean floor, heat at mid-ocean ridges drives hydrothermal circulation, producing ‘black smoker’ chimneys. In these hidden underwater worlds, researchers are finding thriving and unique biological ecosystems, leading some scientists to hypothesize that mid-ocean ridges are where life on Earth began.