Seafloor Vents On Ultraslow-spreading Ridge
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16 Apr 07
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First Seafloor Vents
14 Apr 07 - Scientists have found one of the largest fields of
seafloor vents gushing super-hot, mineral-rich fluids on a mid-ocean
"The discovery of the first active vents ever found on an ultraslow-spreading ridge is a significant milestone event," said Jian Lin, leader of a team of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists who participated in a Chinese expedition to the remote Southwest Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean in February and March.
Most studies of the chimney-like vent structures have taken place along ridges in the "fast-spreading" East Pacific Rise (100 to 200 mm per year) and the "slow-spreading" Mid-Atlantic Ridge (20 to 40 mm per year). Only in recent years have scientists explored "ultraslow-spreading ridges" (less than 20 mm per year) in the Arctic and Indian Oceans—remote areas tough to get to, and therefore the least studied.
Scientists initially thought ultraslow-spreading ridges would be too cold to host large hot vents. But in the past decade, some scientists began to hypothesize that the slower a ridge spreads, the fewer vents it would have—but the bigger the vent fields would be.
"This cruise confirmed that hypothesis," said Lin, a marine geophysicist and U.S. Coordinator of the 20-day expedition aboard the Chinese research vessel Dayang.
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