SOUTHAMPTON, England, April 14 (UPI) — British scientists say they have discovered the world’s deepest known undersea volcanic vents in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean Sea.
The researchers from Britain’s National Oceanography Center said the vents, known as “black smokers,” were discovered at a depth of 3.1 miles by a remotely controlled deep-diving vehicle. The scientists said they found slender spires made of copper and iron ores on the seafloor, erupting water hot enough to melt lead.
Deep-sea vents are undersea springs where superheated water erupts from the ocean floor. They were first seen in the Pacific three decades ago. Most are found at a depth of one to two miles.
“Seeing the world’s deepest black-smoker vents looming out of the darkness was awe-inspiring,” said marine biologist Jon Copley of the University of Southampton, who led the research. “Superheated water was gushing out of their two-story high mineral spires, more than three miles deep beneath the waves.”
The Cayman Trough is the world’s deepest undersea volcanic rift, running across the seafloor of the Caribbean.
The team includes students from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Trinidad, as well as scientists from the University of Durham, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, the University of Texas and Norway’s University of Bergen.
Daily updates of the research, which continues through Tuesday, are available at the expedition Web site at http://www.thesearethevoyages.net/.
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