SITE VISIT: Bubbling Hot

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1359
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1359c

Spindly tubeworms and “black smoker” chimneys spewing hot, mineral-rich water may be the most familiar features of deep-sea vents. But there's much more to know about these geophysical formations, from their chemistry to the strange bacteria thriving beneath them. To dive into the latest research, visit the Vents Web site.

In operation since 1984, Vents is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research project to study underwater volcanoes and hydrothermal vents in the northeastern Pacific. The Vents site offers reports from the program and data, such as volcanic activity records and bathymetric maps. But it's not just for researchers: There are animations, maps, earthquake sounds, and more bells and whistles for students and others curious about the topic. Backgrounders cover areas such as vent geochemistry, the process in which seawater seeps into the ocean crust and reacts to form mineral-rich plumes that rise from the floor. Other pages describe studies at the Juan de Fuca Ridge, where in 1993 researchers for the first time observed an underwater eruption in progress. And don't miss the NeMO Net page, which follows a project to build a real-time Internet satellite link to video cameras and temperature probes installed in an active volcano 480 kilometers off the Oregon coast. Tune in this June for day-to-day dispatches from scientists on the latest NeMO cruise.

www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents

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