Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre

Connelly, Douglas P., Copley, Jonathan T.P., Murton, Bramley J., Stansfield, Kate, Tyler, Paul A., German, Christopher R., Van Dover, Cindy L., Amon, Diva J., Furlong, Maaten, Grindlay, Nancy, Hayman, Nicholas, Hühnerbach, Veit, Judge, Maria, Le Bas, Tim, McPhail, Stephen, Meier, Alexandra, Nakamura, Ko-ichi, Nye, Verity, Pebody, Miles, Pedersen, Rolf B., Plouviez, Sophie, Sands, Carla, Searle, Roger C., Stevenson, Peter, Taws, Sarah and Wilcox, Sally (2012) Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre. Nature Communications, 3, 620. (doi:10.1038/ncomms1636).


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The Mid-Cayman spreading centre is an ultraslow-spreading ridge in the Caribbean Sea. Its extreme depth and geographic isolation from other mid-ocean ridges offer insights into the effects of pressure on hydrothermal venting, and the biogeography of vent fauna. Here we report the discovery of two hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre. The Von Damm Vent Field is located on the upper slopes of an oceanic core complex at a depth of 2,300?m. High-temperature venting in this off-axis setting suggests that the global incidence of vent fields may be underestimated. At a depth of 4,960?m on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre axis, the Beebe Vent Field emits copper-enriched fluids and a buoyant plume that rises 1,100?m, consistent with >400?°C venting from the world's deepest known hydrothermal system. At both sites, a new morphospecies of alvinocaridid shrimp dominates faunal assemblages, which exhibit similarities to those of Mid-Atlantic vents.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1038/ncomms1636
ISSNs: 2041-1723 (print)
Keywords: earth sciences, ecology, geology and geophysics, oceanography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions : Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences > Ocean and Earth Science > Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems
National Oceanography Centre (NERC) > Marine Geoscience
National Oceanography Centre (NERC) > Ocean Technology and Engineering
ePrint ID: 210979
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
10 January 2012Published
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2012 10:38
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:49
Hydrothermal activity and deep-ocean biology of the Mid-Cayman Rise
Funded by: NERC (NE/F017774/1)
Led by: Jonathan Timothy Copley
15 September 2009 to 1 March 2014
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/210979

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