Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Kind of Hydrothermal Vent System Found in Caribbean


Researchers from the University of Southampton (UK) have identified hydrothermal vents in the deep sea of the Caribbean which are unlike any found before.

Collaborating with colleagues at the National Oceanography Centre, the team has revealed active vents in the Von Damm Vent Field (VDVF) that are unusual in their structure, formed largely of talc, rather than the more usual sulphide minerals.

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

The main vent at the Von Damm vent field

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

High resolution 3D bathymetry of the Von Damm vent field

Lead researcher Matthew Hodgkinson and colleagues analysed samples from the VDVF – a vent field south of the Cayman Islands discovered by scientists and crew on board the RRS James Cook in 2010. Results of the analysis are now published in the journal Nature Communications.

Matthew comments: “This vent site is home to a community of fauna similar to those found at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the Atlantic Ocean, but the minerals and chemistry at the Von Damm site are very different to any other known vents.”

Hydrothermal vents form in areas where the Earth’s tectonic plates are spreading. At these sites, circulating seawater is heated by magma below the seafloor and becomes more acidic – leaching metals from the surrounding rocks and redepositing them as the hot water spews out of vents or ‘chimneys’ at the seabed and hits the cold seawater.

The scientists have also found the VDVF system has a very energetic heat flux (the amount of energy it emits into the surrounding ocean) of around 500 megawatts. This is much more than would be expected since the VDVF, on the slopes of an underwater mountain and away from a large magma supply, is on the edge of a spreading area and not in between two separating tectonic plates. The unusual positioning of this new vent field suggests that other similar ones elsewhere in the world may have been overlooked.

Matthew Hodgkinson adds: “If more of these unusual sites exist they could be important contributors in the exchange of chemicals and heat between the Earth’s interior and the oceans, and may be missing from current global assessments of hydrothermal impact on the oceans.”

Notes for editors:

1) For images from the Von Damm Vent Field and a copy of the paper Talc-dominated seafloor deposits reveal a new class of hydrothermal system
(Matthew R.S. Hodgkinson, Alexander P. Webber, Stephen Roberts,
Rachel A. Mills, Douglas P. Connelly & Bramley J. Murton, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10150) please contact Peter Franklin, Media Relations, University of Southampton Tel 023 8059 5457 Email

2) Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world.

3) The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) is the UK’s leading institution for integrated coastal and deep ocean research. NOC undertakes and facilitates world-class agenda-setting scientific research to understand the global ocean by solving challenging multidisciplinary, large scale, long-term marine science problems to underpin international and UK public policy, business and wider society outcomes.

NOC operates the Royal Research Ships James Cook and Discovery and develops technology for coastal and deep ocean research. Working with its partners NOC provides long-term marine science capability including: sustained ocean observing, mapping and surveying; data management and scientific advice.

NOC operates at two sites, Southampton and Liverpool, with the headquarters based in Southampton.

Among the resources that NOC provides on behalf of the UK are the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC), the Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems (MARS) facility, the National Tide and Sea Level Facility (NTSLF), the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) and British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility (BOSCORF).

The National Oceanography Centre is wholly owned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
For further information contact:

Peter Franklin, Media Relations, University of Southampton, Tel: 023 8059 5457, Email:

Follow us on twitter:

Like us on Facebook:

Peter Franklin | newswise

Further reports about: Hydrothermal deep ocean magma tectonic plates

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wandering greenhouse gas
16.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System
14.03.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>