QINGDAO -- A hydrothermal vent and a cold seep,
which were believed to exist in different ecosystems, have been
discovered in the same sea floor area in the Antarctica, according to
A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet's surface from which
geothermally-heated water issues. A cold seep is an area of the ocean
floor where hydrogen sulfide, methane, and other hydrocarbon-rich fluid
seepage occurs, often in the form of a brine pool.
During a recent maritime research mission in the Antarctica, Chinese
scientists aboard vessel "Xiangyanghong 01" collected samples of
hydroxide and authigenic carbonate, products of hydrothermal vents and
cold seeps, in the same place, said Li Tiegang, leader of the mission.
"The two samples were discovered only about 200 meters apart and in
the same geologic structure," said Li, also the director of First
Institute of Oceanography of the State Oceanic Administration. "It shows
that a hydrothermal vent and a cold seep co-existed in the area, a
phenomenon that has never been discovered before."
With no visual devices, scientists were unable to determine whether there were living hydrothermal vents or cold seeps.
Until recently, all life on Earth was believed to be dependent on the
sun. But in the past decades, several deep-sea ecosystems, including
those where hydrothermal vents or cold seeps exist, have been discovered
that utilize an alternative source of energy.
During a 46-day mission that ended in mid-February, Xiangyanghong 01
conducted surveys in the Atlantic sector of the Antarctica in various
fields, including marine geology, geophysics and environment, as well as
seabed topography and mapping.