Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Life under extreme conditions at hot springs in the ocean

26.11.2019

The volcanic island of Kueishantao in northeastern Taiwan is an extreme habitat for marine organisms. With an active volcano, the coastal area has a unique hydrothermal field with a multitude of hot springs and volcanic gases. The acidity of the study area was among the highest in the world.

The easily accessible shallow water around the volcanic island therefore represents an ideal research environment for investigating the adaptability of marine organisms, some of which are highly specialised, such as crabs, to highly acidified and toxic seawater.


Aerial view of the acidic hot springs in the shallow water of the Taiwanese Kueishantao volcanic island, visible through the whitish discoloration of the sea water by sulphur.

Credit: Mario Lebrato, Uni Kiel

For about ten years, marine researchers from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University (CAU), together with their Chinese and Taiwanese partners from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and the National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung, regularly collected data on geological, chemical and biological processes when two events disrupted the results of the time series in 2016.

First, the island was shaken by an earthquake and hit by the severe tropical typhoon Nepartak only a few weeks later. On the basis of data collected over many years, the researchers from Kiel, China and Taiwan were now able to demonstrate for the first time that biogeochemical processes had changed due to the consequences of the enormous earthquake and typhoon and how different organisms were able to adapt to the changed seawater biogeochemistry in the course of only one year.

The first results of the interdisciplinary study, based on extensive data dating back to the 1960s, were recently published in the international journal Nature Scientific Reports.

"Our study clearly shows how closely atmospheric, geological, biological and chemical processes interact and how an ecosystem with extreme living conditions such as volcanic sources on the ocean floor reacts to disturbances caused by natural events," says Dr. Mario Lebrato of the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University.

For years, scientists led by Dr. Dieter Garbe-Schönberg and Dr. Mario Lebrato from the Institute of Geosciences at the CAU have been researching the shallow hydrothermal system "Kueishantao". The selected site has a large number of carbon dioxide emissions in the shallow water. In addition, the sources release toxic metals. Sulphur discolours the water over large areas.

The volcanic gases - with a high sulphur compounds - lead to a strong acidification of the sea water. Through methods of airborne drone surveying, modelling, regular sampling and laboratory experiments research into the hydrothermal field therefore makes an important contribution to the effects of ocean acidification on marine communities.

Only a few specialized animal species such as crabs, snails and bacteria live in the immediate vicinity of the sources. A few metres away, on the other hand, is the diverse life of a tropical ocean.

"Due to the high acidity, the high content of toxic substances and elevated temperatures of the water, the living conditions prevailing there can serve as a natural laboratory for the investigation of significant environmental pollution by humans. The sources at Kueishantao are therefore ideal for investigating future scenarios," says co-author Dr. Yiming Wang, who recently moved from Kiel University to the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena.

After the severe events in 2016, the study area changed completely. The seabed was buried under a layer of sediment and rubble. In addition, the acidic warm water sources dried up, and the composition of the sea water had significantly and continuously changed over a long period of time.

Aerial photos taken with drones, samples taken by research divers from Kiel and Taiwan as well as biogeochemical investigations clearly showed the spatial and chemical extent of the disturbances. These were recorded by the biologist and research diver Mario Lebrato and his Taiwanese colleague Li Chun Tseng and compared with the results of earlier samplings.

"What initially looked like a catastrophe for our current time series study turned out to be a stroke of luck afterwards. This gave us the rare opportunity to observe how organisms adapt to the severe disturbances. We were able to draw on a comprehensive database to do this" explains project manager Dr. Dieter Garbe-Schönberg from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University.

###

The study is the first result of the project "The Kueishantao hydrothermal field as a natural laboratory for the investigation of the effects of ocean acidification" (until December 2020), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the programme Research for Sustainable Development (FONA3) and have been carried out in close cooperation with Taiwanese and Chinese partners.

Original work

Lebrato, M., Wang, Y.V., Tseng, L. et al. Earthquake and typhoon trigger unprecedented transient shifts in shallow hydrothermal vents biogeochemistry. Scientific Reports 9, 16926 (2019), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53314-y

Video of the study area

https://youtu.be/us6hIY5MqGU

Photos are available for download:

http://www.uni-kiel.de/de/pressemitteilungen/2019/363-flachwasser.jpg

Aerial view of the acidic hot springs in the shallow water of the Taiwanese Kueishantao volcanic island, visible through the whitish discoloration of the sea water by sulphur.

© Mario Lebrato, Uni Kiel

http://www.uni-kiel.de/de/pressemitteilungen/2019/363-heisse-quelle.jpg

Underwater image of gas leaks in shallow water near the volcanic island Kueishantao, Taiwan. The gases are rich in carbon dioxide and sulphur compounds and leed to ocean acidification.

© Mario Lebrato, Uni Kiel

http://www.uni-kiel.de/de/pressemitteilungen/2019/363-schwefelhaltige-quellen.jpg

Aerial view of the Kueishantao volcanic island off the east coast of Taiwan.

© Mario Lebrato, Uni Kiel

Links

http://www.marineclimateresearch.ifg.uni-kiel.de/de (Institute for Geosciences, Marine Climate Research)

http://www.kms.uni-kiel.de (focus Kiel Marine Science)

Scientific Contact

Dr. Dieter Garbe-Schönberg
Institute for Geosciences (CAU)
email: dieter.garbe-schoenberg@ifg.uni-kiel.de
(only available by mail, currently on FS Sonne)

Dr. Mario Lebrato
email: mlebrato13@gmail.com
Phone (+44) 7342 949332

Media Contact

Dr. Dieter Garbe-Schönberg
dieter.garbe-schoenberg@ifg.uni-kiel.de

http://www.uni-kiel.de 

Dr. Dieter Garbe-Schönberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.uni-kiel.de/en/details/news/363-hot-springs
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53314-y

Further reports about: carbon dioxide crabs hot springs ocean acidification volcanic island

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ozone-depleting substances caused half of late 20th-century Arctic warming, says study
21.01.2020 | Earth Institute at Columbia University

nachricht NASA, NOAA analyses reveal 2019 second warmest year on record
16.01.2020 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A new look at 'strange metals'

For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".

Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...

Im Focus: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

Im Focus: Miniature double glazing: Material developed which is heat-insulating and heat-conducting at the same time

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction.

Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IAF establishes an application laboratory for quantum sensors

In order to advance the transfer of research developments from the field of quantum sensor technology into industrial applications, an application laboratory is being established at Fraunhofer IAF. This will enable interested companies and especially regional SMEs and start-ups to evaluate the innovation potential of quantum sensors for their specific requirements. Both the state of Baden-Württemberg and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are supporting the four-year project with one million euros each.

The application laboratory is being set up as part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project »QMag«, short for quantum magnetometry. In this project, researchers...

Im Focus: How Cells Assemble Their Skeleton

Researchers study the formation of microtubules

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new look at 'strange metals'

21.01.2020 | Materials Sciences

Body's natural signal carriers can help melanoma spread

21.01.2020 | Health and Medicine

Structual color barcode micromotors for multiplex biosensing

21.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>