Deepest undersea smokers found in Cayman trench

| 31/03/2011

(Hydro International): Ascientific expedition has discovered the world’s deepest undersea volcanic vents, known as ‘black smokers’, 3.1 miles down in the Cayman Trench. Using a deep -diving vehicle controlled from the Royal Research Ship James Cook, the scientists found slender spires made of copper and iron ores on the seafloor, nearly half a mile deeper than anyone has seen before and erupting water hot enough to melt lead. The expedition to the trough is being run by Drs Doug Connelly, Jon Copley, Bramley Murton, Kate Stansfield and Prof Paul Tyler.Scientists are fascinated by deepsea vents because the scalding water that gushes from them nourishes lush colonies of deep-sea creatures, which has forced scientists to rewrite the rules of biology.

Studying the life-forms that thrive in such unlikely havens is providing insights into patterns of marine life around the world, the possibility of life on other planets, and even how life on Earth began.

"Seeing the world’s deepest black-smoker vents looming out of the darkness was awe-inspiring," says Copley, a marine biologist at the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES) based at the NOC and leader of the overall research programme.

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Category: Science and Nature

Comments (16)

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  1. Concerned Caymanian says:

    Did they find any oil down there for Mac’s East End refinery?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Trench is a whole new undiscovered world —

    This team is exploring it until 20 April: please do a follow up the end of their trip to share their findings as well please

  3. MER says:

    Kind of scary actually, because it is believed that the Cayman Islands sit on a giant volcanoe, so hopefully these aren’t signs of a soon eruption. Just saying.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t this article from last year?

  5. A. Theist says:

    But these smokers afford very strong evidence for evolution given the highly specialised marine life found near them.  Should we not be covering up their existence?

  6. Anonymous says:

     Wow! This knowledge will, hopefully, inspire some young Caymanians to study deep sea vents and the associated biology. Imagine if that energy could be harnessed without disrupting the deep sea ecology: it could be a whole new alternative to fossil fuels!

  7. anonymous says:

    You mean like that crater in the North Sound? If you think inside of that is not bubbling think again. Go touch it!!

      • Anony-nony says:

        As Testudo himself said, he put his hand in the ‘vent plume’ at Anchor Point and "felt no noticeable change in temperature". Therefore, it is not any type of fumarole. There is no ‘surface’ geothermal activity in the Cayman Islands. If its geothermal its too hot to touch. (Or at least hotterthan the surrounding sea water.) If its not, what you’re seeing is a ground water seep.

        Yes, our groundwater is often full of hydrogen sulfide, iron and other minerals. so it looks a funny colour. It will also be a constant temperature throughout the year so in summer it often feels ‘cool’ and in winter ‘hot’ compared to the surrounding sea water. But it is not hydrothermal in nature. (I believe CNS has an article to that effect posted previously.)

    • Anony-nony says:

      What “crater in” the North Sound? I challenge you to post proof of any ‘crater’ in the North Sound you can’t stick your hand in.

  8. H2OSmoker says:

    We also have some miniature versions you do not need a submersible to see as well, right off the shore on East End.

    CNS: Can you send me the link again? nickywatson@caymannewsservice.com Thanks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How cool is this? There’s so much yet to be discovered right below the beautiful sea that surrounds us.