Off the coast of Lapas, Mexico, the Gulf of California has a mysterious world of scorching water spewing from an 80-foot (24-meter) high mound and iridescent worms spewing in inches along the ocean floor. Scientists have recently discovered this hydrothermal wonderland. As they explored the area, they also discovered at least six potential new animal species never seen before.
An international team, including scientists from both the United States and Mexico, said they conducted a recent expedition on a 272-foot (83-meter) long research vessel called the Falcon. statement From the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI). From the ship, the team deployed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named SuBastian to collect samples of hydrothermal vent fluid, mud, rocks, and marine organisms and shoot ultra-high-definition video. .. And using the ship’s sonar system, the team planned an area of the seafloor that would be more closely explored on future cruises.
Previous expeditions conducted in 2012, 2015, and 2018 laid the foundation for this 2021 cruise, the expedition’s chief scientist and chief engineer for seafloor mapping at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Institute (MBARI). Said David Caress. For example, in 2018, the same expedition team used an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) (a yellow torpedo robot with a propeller at one end) to map the ocean floor using sonar.
Related: Photo: Sea creatures thrive in another world hydrothermal vent system
With the resolution that the AUV can achieve, we understand the overall characteristics of the hydrothermal vent, but “until we lower the ROV, we don’t know if it’s currently active,” Caress told Live Science. So now, the team has investigated these features in a ROV and found a number of active vents that eject water up to temperatures up to 549 degrees Fahrenheit (287 degrees Celsius).
Hydrothermal vents are usually formed in two areas Structural plate Kares said they were moving away from each other.In these areas, seawater infiltrates through cracks EarthClose contact with the crust and the hot mantle below. The water quickly heats up and flows back towards the surface, creating vents.
In most hydrothermal vents, on the way to the surface, the fluid that exits the hydrothermal vents turns black as it comes into contact with dark basalt formed from cooled magma and picks up metals such as: .. iron.. “Most of the hydrothermal vents discovered and studied are in the form of these” black smokers, “” said Kares, referring to the nicknames for these hydrothermal vents. Interestingly, however, the expedition team discovered that hydrothermal vents were emitting clear, shimmering fluids in the Pescadero Basin, a depression at the southern tip of the Gulf of California.
This can occur because huge amounts of sediment from mainland Mexico end up in the Gulf of California, and this deposit changes the fluid as it reaches the surface. “The hydrothermal fluids begin to interact with the basalt … but then they must penetrate through the sediment,” Kares said. This process removes basalt and metallic fluids and replaces them with carbonates containing minerals such as limestone, giving the fluids an unusual appearance.
This process also makes the liquid less acidic than the liquid from black smoker, giving the resulting vents a unique structure. Vents in the Pescadero basin tend to form shelf-like structures called flanges, instead of forming chimney-like structures that are tens of feet high. The hydrothermal fluid collects under the flange and spills over its lip, creating a sort of reverse waterfall. And if the flange accumulates too much limestone, it will collapse under its own weight, forming a huge mound. At the sites surveyed, some mounds reached approximately 164 feet (50 m) wide and 82 feet (25 m) high, Caress said.
Related: Ocean Wonders: Spectacular Pictures of Sea Creatures
Following the expedition, some of the researchers will work to better understand the geological and chemical properties of these unique vents. Others create computer models of larger underground systems that fuel all vents from below.
“I like to compare it to the piping of the system,” said Raquelne Great Aranda, co-chief scientist of the expedition and marine geophysicist and geologist at the Ensenada Center for Scientific Research in Baja California. Said. During the ROV dive, Negrete-Aranda and her colleagues measured the temperature gradient of the seafloor and also collected data on the thermal conductivity of the sediments. Combining this information with geochemical data helps scientists understand where and how Bentfield supplies superheated water.
There are two adjacent bent fields in the Pescadero basin, “I strongly feel that they are somehow connected,” Negretea Aranda told Live Science. “But … it’s a bit early to say,” because her lab is still processing all the numbers.
Some scientists say geology Chemistry Some of the vents focused on a variety of nearby creatures. Blue scale worm (Peinaleopolynoe orphanae), There were bright iridescent scales, crawling across one vent. According to a statement from SOI, the team named this particular vent “Mels”. This means “blue” in the Kiriwa dialect of the indigenous Humain tribe of Baja California.
During the expedition, the team discovered 10 previously unobserved known animal species in the Pescadero Basin. According to a statement from SOI, they also discovered at least six potential new species of crustaceans, mollusks, roundworms, arrow worms, bristol worms, or polychaetes.
These creatures have been designated as “potential” new species until more thorough examination of the animals. Genetics The morphology returned to the lab confirms that they have not been previously characterized. That said, this kind of identification work actually started on the ship, Mr. Caress said. For example, after an ROV pulls a large amount of mud from the ocean floor, Greg Rouse, a researcher specializing in invertebrate and animal biodiversity studies, seeks out small insects and sifts sediments to create new possibilities. Identified all sexual insects. To scientists.
In addition to looking for animals such as snails, worms, sea anemones, and crabs, one arm of the research team focused on microscopic life. Bacterial mats grow near vents and different microorganisms propagate under slightly different conditions, causing bacteria to grow on different gradients and change color from white to gray to blue.Scientists are planning to look at microbes DNA Then, in order to better understand the environmental conditions required for each species to survive, the specimens are cultivated in their laboratory.
As a result, the expedition is over, but the data collected during the trip will keep the team busy for the next few years. And hopefully, within the next few years, researchers will return to the Gulf of California and continue exploring hydrothermal vents in a relatively ambiguous area north of Pescadero, Kares said.
Originally published in Live Science.
Wonderland of iridescent worms and hydrothermal vents found off Mexican coast Source link Wonderland of iridescent worms and hydrothermal vents found off Mexican coast
The post Wonderland of iridescent worms and hydrothermal vents found off Mexican coast appeared first on California News Times.