Biological Communities at the Florida Escarpment Resemble Hydrothermal Vent Taxa

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Science  23 Nov 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4677, pp. 965-967
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4677.965


Dense biological communities of large epifaunal taxa similar to those found along ridge crest vents at the East Pacific Rise were discovered in the abyssal Gulf of Mexico. These assemblages occur on a passive continental margin at the base of the Florida Escarpment, the interface between the relatively impermeable hemipelagic clays of the distal Mississippi Fan and the jointed Cretaceous limestone of the Florida Platform. The fauna apparently is nourished by sulfide rich hypersaline waters seeping out at near ambient temperatures onto the sea floor.