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Deep-sea hydrothermal vents and cold seeps are submarine springs where nutrient-rich fluids emanate from the sea floor. Vent and seep ecosystems occur in a variety of geological settings throughout the global ocean and support food webs based on chemoautotrophic primary production. Most vent and seep invertebrates arrive at suitable habitats as larvae dispersed by deep-ocean currents. The recent evolution of many vent and seep invertebrate species (<100 million years ago) suggests that Cenozoic tectonic history and oceanic circulation patterns have been important in defining contemporary biogeographic patterns.
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