Hydrothermal vents are mysterious
geysers deep on the ocean floor that support bizarre oases. They are so strange, in fact,
that they occasionally make front-page news. Sometimes the headlines sound as if they belong in
those tabloids on display at supermarket checkout stands.
- Oases Under the Sea!
- Alien Life Forms!
- Gutless Wonders!
- Living Fossils!
- Gold and Oil for the Taking!
- Life Found on Other Planets!
We'll take a journey of discovery to find out the facts behind these headlines. We'll go down
about 2222 meters (7290 feet) to the ocean floor in the DSV Alvin, a submersible
maintained and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
This underwater image
shows the front part of DSV Alvin and some of the scientific research
equipment, such as cameras and baskets, that is attached to it.
The Alvin underwater. Note the scientific research equipment attached to the front
of the submersible, such as cameras and baskets.
This is a special ship, battery-powered, that can withstand the tremendous pressure of these
depths. It is part of a larger research vessel, called the
mother ship, which transports the
submersible and an important team of scientists--
and marine geologists--to oceans
around the world. Meet the Scientists by clicking
Before entering, remove your shoes and belt buckles. They could damage the watertight seal.
Bring along warm clothes, but no nylon that could pose a fire hazard. Ready? Then let's
climb down the ladder.
This image shows one wall of the Alvin covered with monitors and switches
as well as crew seats.
It's really crowded in here. There is room for three of us--you, me and the pilot--in a
space about the size of a bathtub. The Alvin itself is about the size of a minivan.
If all goes well, we'll be down for about 8 hours. We'll be cold and wet, because the
ambient seawater temperature is about
2°C, or just above freezing, and our
titanium sphere has no heater.
We're about to be lowered into the water. It's a good time to go over the basics of vents
while the divers check the outside of the submersible.
What does a vent look
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Welcome Aboard! |
Dive Briefing |
Research Tools |
Meet the Scientists! |
Unsolved Mysteries |
Acknowledgements & Sources