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Asphalt Volcanism and Chemosynthetic Life in the Campeche Knolls, Gulf of Mexico

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Science  14 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5673, pp. 999-1002
DOI: 10.1126/science.1097154

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Abstract

In the Campeche Knolls, in the southern Gulf of Mexico, lava-like flows of solidified asphalt cover more than 1 square kilometer of the rim of a dissected salt dome at a depth of 3000 meters below sea level. Chemosynthetic tubeworms and bivalves colonize the sea floor near the asphalt, which chilled and contracted after discharge. The site also includes oil seeps, gas hydrate deposits, locally anoxic sediments, and slabs of authigenic carbonate. Asphalt volcanism creates a habitat for chemosynthetic life that may be widespread at great depth in the Gulf of Mexico.

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