Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Good vibrations' from deep-sea smokers may keep fish out of hot water

07.02.2007
So you're a fish.

Right now some tubeworm tartare and clams on the half shell would really hit the spot, so you're headed for the all-night café. "All-night" being the operative word because the volcanic ridge you're tooling along is nearly 1.5 miles below the surface. The term "where the sun don't shine" perfectly describes the place. It's pitch black. Darn, but what's that loud rumbling up ahead? Must be one of those pesky black smokers. Some of those babies can fry your face off. A detour is highly indicated.

The long-held assumption that black smokers are silent is wrong, according to recently published research led by Timothy Crone, a University of Washington doctoral student in oceanography. It's prompting scientists to wonder: Could the sound and vibrations of black smokers be the reason fish in total darkness avoid being poached by waters as hot as 750 F? And might similar sounds guide them to the smorgasbord of tube worms, mussels, shrimp, snails and other fauna at vents with more temperate waters?

Want to be the first on your block to hear what a black smoker sounds like? Go to http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=30030 where audio of a black smoker has been combined with a video into a short movie.

The research was reported online during the inaugural month of the Public Library of Sciences' interactive journal, PLoS ONE. Aimed at involving more people in science, published results are available without a subscription and can include a wealth of audio, video and other materials.

Hydrothermal vents, discovered in the 1970s, are found along volcanically active ridges where seawater seeps into the seafloor, picks up heat and minerals and then vents back into the ocean depths. The hottest and most vigorous of the vents are black smokers, so called because when the fluids they emit hit the icy cold seawater, minerals in the fluids precipitate out and it looks just like dark, billowing smoke.

Because of a paper published 15 years ago, it had been thought the vents were probably playing only the sounds of silence. Still a number of scientists suspected that the vents could be generating sounds, given the obvious turbulence of the flows, Crone says.

It was decided that new recordings should be attempted because Crone and other oceanographers are looking for new ways to measure vent flows, which are a source of heat and minerals in the world's oceans that scientists would like to understand better. Commonly used instruments to measure flow are often short lived when inserted in the superheated, corrosive black-smoker fluids.

How much simpler if the vents were generating some kind of sound that could be recorded and correlated to flows, Crone says.

With funding from two organizations that help take fields of research and instrumentation in new directions, the UW Royalty Research Fund and the W.M. Keck Foundation, a deep-sea digital acoustic recording system was deployed in the Main Endeavour vent field. The field is on the seafloor about 300 miles west of Seattle on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Crone recorded 45 hours of sound at the vent scientists call "Sully" and 136 hours at the vent called "Puffer."

That's the sound of Sully you're hearing as the video runs. Crone likens the sound to the rumbling of an avalanche or a forest fire.

How loud would it be if you were sitting a foot away? (That's something you couldn't actually do because the pressure where most black smokers are found is so intense that you'd implode.) The sound level would be somewhere between conversational speech and a hairdryer, Crone says.

Four possible mechanisms might be causing -- or contributing to -- the noise, the researchers say. For example, the flow could be pulsating or its volume could be changing as its waters cool. Dissimilar fluids in the flow could generate noise where they mix. Or the fluids rushing through the nooks and crannies of the smoker vent itself could be creating noise.

The sounds also appear to change as flows change in reaction to such things as the Earth's tides, the authors say. Read the full report on PLoS ONE at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0000133. professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; and Jeffrey Parsons, formerly a UW faculty member, now with Herrera Environmental Consultants.

Buried within the broad range of sounds that produce the rumbling, Crone's analysis revealed the surprise that the vents also produce resonant tones. There could be a number of things generating such tones. For example, flows along the cavities and bumps inside the vent structures may cause tones in the same way jug band members produce sound by blowing across the mouths of their jugs, causing the air inside the jug to resonate and produce a deep tone.

Both Sully and Puffer produce resonant tones at several different frequencies that we can't discern with all the other noise generated by the vents. But you can hear examples of tones that Crone pulled out from the racket by listening at http://uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=30030.

"With these resonant tones, each vent within the vent field is likely to have its own unique acoustic signature," Crone says.

If so, and if fish are actually using vent sounds to navigate, then the distinctive tones might be how fish find their way back to cooler vents where the eats have been particularly good.

In that case, being on top of old smoky -- all covered in sounds -- would be a good thing indeed.

Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plosone.org/
http://www.washington.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins
16.11.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

nachricht Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide
13.11.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>