Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism

Black Smokers.


Session 1: Background and Vent Animals.

Session 2: Origins of Life and Vent Mining.

Session 3: Meet at AMNH with Ed Mathez.

Questions to Ponder and Discuss

The Origin of Life.

Read the title of the June 6, 1979 Christian Science Monitor article by Lynde McCormick. How does it affect you as a reader? Choose a few titles you particularly like from this selection of articles. What do they tell the reader? What are some titles you feel are ineffective, cliched, trite or even misleading?

Chose one of the popular articles that you could give to someone who had no knowledge of theories on the origin of life. Outline the reason you chose that article. What might you have added (or taken out) to give the article depth of the entire issue at hand?

Look at the quotations found in the September 29, 1996 edition of the Springfield, IL State Journal-Register and the May 4, 1997 Sacramento bee. What quotation strike you as being poignantly effective – and which ones fall flat?

Which articles do a good job of defining archaebacteria and putting it into an evolutionary perspective? Do any articles leave holes in the science and the logic? What do you think might be the cause of this?

Economic Mining.

Do you think it is necessary to read the original (scientific) material in order to write a popular article? Which scientific article would you choose if you were going to write a popular piece and you had to base it on only one scientific article? Which popular articles seemed like the author had had read the original research?

What is your first impression of the May 8, 1979 Walter Sullivan NY Times article? Read the article again. Is you second impression different than the first? How did the second reading change your absorption of the material? How do you think we (as journalists) can use our writing to hit readers the first time?

Which lead to you prefer -one that is scientifically to-the-point or more creative and attention getting? Chose an example of each kind of lead and show how they are effective and noneffective.

What do you think about W. Broad's Dec. 21, 1997 article on the front page of the NY Times? Why do you think it made the front page? How does it compare with the Dec. 30, 1997 article on the cover of Science Times? Do you think W. Broad did additional research for the second article?


Background information: Vent Animals.

Press Release. (1 April 1977) pp. 5. University of California San Diego, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography. Public Affairs Office, A-033 La Jolla, CA 92093.

Press Release. (17 April 1978) pp. 3+ill. . University of California San Diego, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography. Public Affairs Office, A-033 La Jolla, CA 92093.

Project Summary. (12 July 1978) pp. 4. . NSF Award #OCE7810460. University of California San Diego, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography. La Jolla, CA 92093.

Press Release. (3 Jan. 1979) pp. 4. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Woods Hole, MA 02543. Ballard, R. D. (1984) The exploits of Alvin and ANGUS: Exploring the East Pacific Rise. Oceanus. 27(3): p. 7-14.

Hayman, R. M. and K. C. Macdonald. (1985) The geology of deep-sea hot springs. American Scientist. 73: p. 441-445.

Web page. (1998) American Museum of Natural History Expeditions: Black Smokers. pp. 9.

Scientific Papers and Reports: Vent Animals.

Van Dover, C.L. (1988) Do 'eyeless' shrimp see the light of glowing deep-sea vents? Oceanus. 31:p. 47-52.

VanDover, C. L. , E. Z. Szuts, S. C. Chamberlain, and J. R. Cann. (1989) A novel eye in 'eyeless' shrimp from hydrothermal vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Nature. 337: p. 458-460.

Pelli, D. G. and S. C. Chamberlain. (1989) The visibility of 350ÉC black-body radiation by the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata and man. Nature. 337: p. 460-461.

Travis, J. (1993) Probing the unsolved mysteries of the deep. Science. 259: p. 1123-1124.

Little, C. T. S., R. J. Herrington, V. V. Maslennikov, N. J. Morris and V. V. Zaykov. (1997) Silurian hydrothermal-vent community from Southern Urals, Russia. Nature. 385: p. 146-148.

Vrijenhoek, R.C. (1997) Gene flow and genetic diversity in naturally fragmented metapopulations of deep-sea hydrothermal vent animals. The Journal of Heredity. 88(4): p. 285-293.

Tunnicliffe, V., R. W. Embley, J. F. Hoden, D. A. Butterfield, G. J. Massoth, and S. K. Juniper. (1997) Biological colonization of new hydrothermal vents following an eruption on Juan de Fuca Ridge. Deep-Sea Research I. 44(9): p. 1627-1644.

Holden, C. (ed.) (1998) Farming Tubeworms. Science. 279: p. 663.

Prieur, D., S. Chamroux, P. Durand, G. Erauso, Ph. Fera, C. Jeanthon, L.Le Borgne, G. Mevel, and P. Vincent. (1990) Metabolic diversity in epibiotic microflora associated with the Pompeii worms Alvinella pompejana and A. caudata (Polychaetae: Annelida). Marine Biology. 106: p. 361-367.

Cary, S. C., T. Shank, and J. Stein. (1998) Worms bask in extreme temperatures. Nature. 391: p. 545-546.

Popular Articles: Vent Animals.

Smith, C. (1979) Diverse marine animals: Deep sea hot springs beckon. San Diego Union. Thurs. 4 Jan. page B-5.

Anonymous. (1979) Sea hot spring probed by team. Oceanside Blade-Tribune. Sun. 28 Jan. p. 13.

Anonymous. (1979) Sea life thrives in hot springs on bottom of ocean. San Diego Daily Transcript. Mon. 22 Jan.

Corbett, B. (1979) Scripps divers find rare life on sea floor. San Diego Tribune, 30 April page B-1.

Anonymous. (1979) New deep-sea 'clambakes' found of Baja. San Diego Union. Mon. 30 April page B-1 and B-4.

Anonymous. (1979) Scripps finds sea life in 'hot springs'. Times-Advocate, Escondido, CA. Tues. 1 May.

Anonymous. (1979) Undersea spa harbors new ecosystem: Key clue was crack in crust. The Daily Guardian Science. 18 Sept. p. 43.

Childress, J. J., H. Felbeck and G. N. Somero. (1987) Symbiosis in the deep sea. Scientific American. 256: p. 114-120.

Stover, D. (1994) Web page: Creatures of the thermal vents. Ocean Planet Smithsonian: Popular Science.

Travis, J. (1996) Live long and prosper. Science News. 150: p. 201.

Anonymous (1996) Web page: Scientists witness creation of new hydrothermal vents on seafloor.

Meadows, R. (1996) Web page: Smoking in the dark. Zoogoer. 25(3).

Anonymous. (1996) Breakthrough: Oceanography; Home on the bone. Discover. 17(10) Oct. p. 22.

Monastersky, R. (1996) The light at the bottom of the ocean. Science News. 150(10): p. 156.

Radford, T. (1996) Ex-philes: The truth is down there. The Guardian (London). 24 Oct, p. 12.

Suplee, C. (1997) marine Biology: No refuge from evolution? The Washington Post. 13 Jan. page A2.

Menon, S. (1997) Deep sea rebirth. Discover. 18(7): p. 34.

Flanagan, R. (1997) The light at the bottom of the sea. New Scientist. 13 Dec. p. 42.

Anonymous. (1998) Heat-loving Pompeii worms baffle scientists. AAP Newsfeed. 4 Feb.

Anonymous. (1998) Divers discover unique thermostable enzymes in hydrothermal vent worm symbiont. Business Wire. 4 Feb.

Freeman, K. (1998) An all-temperature worm. The New York Times. Tues. 10, Feb. page F4 col. 6.

Niiler, E. (1998) When it comes to heat, tiny worm seems hardiest creature on Earth. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Wed. 11 Feb. page E4.

Baron, D., R. Siegel, and N. Adams. (1998) Whale stepping stones. NPR: All Things Considered. 11 Feb. 8pm ET. Transcript #98021107-212.

Flam, F. (1998) Worm of the deep sea knows about being on the hot seat. Austin American-Statesman. 15 Feb. page A27.

Arnst, C. (ed.) (1998) A worm for all seasons. Business Week. 23 Feb. p. 111.

Bishop, E. M. (1998) Science beat: Hot worms. The Columbian (Vancouver WA.) 4 March p. C1.

Scientific Papers and Reports: Black Hole Smokers - Origin of Life.

Ponnampera, C. and M. Hobish (1982) "The Galapagos Hydrothermal Vent Ecologies: Possibilities for Neoabiogenesis?" First Symposium on Chemical Evolution and the Origin and Evolution of Life. NASA Ames Research Center, CA. August 2-4.

Tunnicliffe, V. (1992) "Hydrothermal-Vent Communities of the Deep Sea." American Scientist. 80: 336-349.

de Ronde, Cornel E. J., T. W. Ebbsen (1996) "32 .b.y. of organic compound formation near sea-floor hot springs" Geology 24(Sept.): 791-794.

Popular Articles: Black Hole Smokers - Origin of Life.

Corbett, B. (1979) "Strange Sea Cretaures-a new plan of life?" San Diego Evening Tribune. May 19.

Stadler, M. (1979) "Scripps scientists discover new environment for life" La Jolla (California) Light. Thurs. May 31, A-7.

McCormick, L. (1979) "Life where no life should be" The Christian Science Monitor. Wed. June 6, B2 and B3.

Wilford, J. N. (1983) "Bacteria Found to Thrive in Heat of Volcanic Vents on Ocean Floor" The New York Times. June 3, A14.

Flynn, P. (1988) "2 at UCSD challenge sea-vent origin-of-life theory" The San Diego Union-Tribune. Aug. 18, B1.

Anonymous. (1989) "Life without oxygen; dark secrets" The Economist. July 15, p. 82.

Rona, P. (1992) "Deep-Sea Geysers of the Atlantic". National Geographic. Oct. p. 105-109.

Dietrich, B. (1994) "Life inside Earth---Scientists wondering if that's where we originated". The Seattle Times. Jan. 24, A1.

Cone, J. (1994) "Life's Undersea Beginnings". Earth. July.

Ryan, S. (1994) "Back from the deep". Sunday Times. Times Newspapers Limited. Oct. 9.

Wasowicz, L. (1996) "Life may have begun in the dark". U.P.I., B.C. Cycle, Feb. 23.

Hawkes, N. (1996) "Germs that Time Forgot". The Times. (Times Newspapers Limited.) Aug. 26.

Blum. D. (1996) "Sludge Factor: Life theory aims at ocean depths". State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL). Sept. 29, p. 52.

Sawyer, K. (1997) "Cosmic Revelations from Deep within the Earth" . Sacramento Bee. May 4, F1.

Dorminey, B. (1997) "Monitoring Secrets of the Deep: Oceanographers worldwide probe volcanic vent systems for clues about the origins of life". The Financial Post. Oct. 23, p. 69.

Scientific Papers and Reports: Black Hole Smokers - Mining.

Rona, P. (1973) "Plate Tectonics and Mineral Resources". Scientific American. Continents Adrift and Continents Aground- readings from Scientific American. Intro by J. Tuzo Wilson, July.

Haymon, R. M. and M. Kastner. (1981) "Hot spring deposits on the East Pacific Rise at 21 degrees North: preliminary description of mineralogy and genesis". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 53:363-381.

Edmond, J. M. (1984) "The Geochemistry of Ridge Crest Hot Springs". Oceanus. 27(Fall): 15-19.

Rona, P. (1986) "Mineral Deposits from Sea-Floor Hot Springs". Scientific American. 254(Jan.): 84-92.

Herzig, P. M. and M. D. Hannington. (1995) "Hydrothermal activity, vent fauna, and submarine gold mineralization at alkaline fore-arc seamounts near Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea". Proceedings of the 1995 PACRIM Congress at the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 9: 279-284.

Humphris, S. E. et al. (1995) "Th internal structure of an active sea-floor massive sulphide deposit". Nature. 377:713-716.

Koski, R. (1995) "The Making of Metal Deposits". Nature. (News and Views). 377:679-680.

Popular Articles: Black Hole Smokers - Mining.

Sullivan W. (1979) "Sea-Floor Geysers May be Key to Ore Deposits" New York Times. May, 8, C1 and C2.

Perlman, D. (1979) "New Theory of Ocean Chemistry" . San Francisco Chronicle. Nov. 10, p. 4.\

Anon. (1983) "Mining impact on Gorda Ridge questioned". U. P. I. May 23.

Anon (1985) "Mineral deposits discovered". U. P. I. Oct. 4.

A. P. (1987) "Pacific mineral find reported". Journal of Commerce. May 19.

Rona, P. (1988) "Metal Factories of the Deep Sea". Natural History. Jan. 97:52-57.

Anon. (1989) "Valuable minerals found on undersea ridge". U.P.I., Feb. 15.

Highfield, R. (1993) "Mile-down lab to study deep sea 'smokers'". The Daily Telegraph. Aug. 18, p. 16.

Matthews, R. (1995) "Gold rush begins beneath the waves". Sunday Telegraph. March 26.

Furukawa, T. (1996) "Japanese find seabed metals". American Metal Market. Sept. 10.

Smith, M. (1997) "Undersea harvesting of metals" . U. P. I. Feb. 16.

Broad, W. J. (1997) "First Move Made to Mine Mineral Riches of Seabed". New York Times. Dec. 21, A1.

Anon. (1997) "PAC: scientists strike gold beneath sea off New Zealand". AAP Newsfeed. Dec. 22.

Broad, W. J. (1997) "Undersea Treasure, and Its Odd Guardians". New York Times. Dec. 30, F1.

Anon. (1998) "Seafloor Massive Sulfides". The Mining Journal. Feb. 13.

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