Vents & Volcanoes

Hot water, minerals, methane and other chemicals can be found seeping up from the seafloor where specialized communities of microbes and animals thrive. Underwater volcanoes also spew a huge amount of magma and drive movement of the seafloor.

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Census researchers manipulate the robotic arm of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Quest to study shrimp and other deep sea life forms. They discovered the creatures at a hydrothermal vent 3 kilometers (1.9 miles)...
Riftia tubeworm ( Riftia pachyptila ) colonies grow where hot, mineral-laden...
By Lyndsy Gazda & the Ocean Portal Team Life is typically sparse on the...
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Scientists don’t often get the opportunity to travel through time. But nestled...

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Superheated magma, about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, glows orange as it slowly leaks from cracks along the six-mile long active rift zone of the West Mata Volcano in the Pacific Ocean near Fiji. The slow-leaking magma doesn't erupt...
Riftia tubeworm ( Riftia pachyptila ) colonies grow where hot, mineral-laden...
Methane gas, trapped deep within the Earth's crust, can slowly leak from...

DIVE DEEPER

By Lyndsy Gazda & the Ocean Portal Team Life is typically sparse on the deep seafloor, where organisms endure high...
This map shows volcanoes of Central America and within the Caribbean Sea. The red triangles represent volcanoes known to have erupted in recent time (within the last 10,000 years) and white stars are...
It may be the last place you’d expect to find corals—up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where the water is icy cold and the light dim or absent. Yet believe it or not, lush coral...
Kilauea Volcano, Kalapana, Hawaii, USA “In the upper left of this image I can visualize the profile of Pele, the fire goddess of Hawaiian folklore, as if she is whispering to the sea.” -- Nature's...
A volcanic eruption of superheated magma (some 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit) from the West Mata Volcano produces a bright flash of hot magma that is blown up into the water before settling back to the...
NOAA’s New Millennium Observatory (NeMO) was set up to study geologic, chemical, and biologic interactions along the mid-ocean ridge system. Learn more about NeMO and watch a video about underwater...
Methane gas, trapped deep within the Earth's crust, can slowly leak from cracks in the seafloor known as methane seeps. While we would never consider methane as food, in the deep sea where there is...
As a geological oceanographer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Maggie Toscano has made a career of documenting how coastal systems have changed over thousands of years in...
Since 1902, more than 40 centimeters of mangrove peat could have accumulated at the Belize site, enough to entrap and bury small pieces of pumice. But Juan’s vexing questions persisted: Why hadn’t...
Orange shaded areas are major drainage basins of Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras that contribute sediment to the Caribbean. Wind and current patterns are represented by red and black arrows,...
Scientists don’t often get the opportunity to travel through time. But nestled among the beautiful coral reefs of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a place that provides a glimpse today of what could be the...
Did you know that 80 percent of the volcanic eruptions on Earth take place underwater? These underwater eruptions occur regularly, forming new landmasses and providing a living environment for deep-...
A giant tortoise subspecies ( Geochelone nigra vicina ) lives on Isabela Island in the Galapagos. Cerro Azul, estimated to be about 350,000 years old, is one of six volcanoes on the island.
But what path, precisely, did this pumice take to reach Belize from the Guatemalan Highlands? Maps of drainage networks that reach the Gulf of Honduras and currents in the western Caribbean Sea are...
Recent scientific discoveries have revealed an underwater community of marine animals and other organisms that thrive in the dark depths of the ocean near hydrothermal vents and undersea volcanoes...
Imagine: You’re in a small submersible, and you gently settle on the soft muddy bottom at a depth of 12,000 feet. It’s absolutely dark. What will you see when the exterior lights are turned on? Will...
Census researchers manipulate the robotic arm of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Quest to study shrimp and other deep sea life forms. They discovered the creatures at a hydrothermal vent 3...
Travel to a world of perpetual night--the deep ocean hydrothermal vents near the Galapagos Rift where life thrives around superheated water spewing from deep inside the Earth. Discovered only in 1977...
Recently, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History researcher Chris Mah and collaborators with the British Antarctic Survey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute used molecular tools...
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