Volcanoes and Vents: A Hidden World Beneath the Sea

April 24, 2013

Featuring

Emily Klein
Visiting Senior Research Scientist
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

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.