|2003 NEWS: (most recent items at end of list!)
- Hypothesis of Black-Sea Deluge as Noah's Flood is
Challenged. See the original story below
on the idea that a massive flood from the Mediterranean to the
Black Sea (thousands of years ago) gave rise to the Noah legend.
Researchers have been using deep-sea technology to look for
evidence deep in the Black Sea. New research contradicts the
hypothesis. The question is still open.
- Jan. 11: Bacteria found deep under the sea floor.
S. Giovannoni of Oregon State University and colleagues report tghe
discovery of microbes living in fluids in the Earth'c crust 300m
below the Juan de Fuca Ridge. They suggest that there is an
enormous microbial ecosystem in the crust that is independent of
sunlight. See the 11-Jan issue of New Scientist, p.13, or
click the link above.
- Jan. 18: Unexpectedly high activity of hydrothermal venting
found in Arctic Ridge. H. Edmonds and colleagues found that the
Gakkel Ridge under the ice of the Arctic Ocean has more
hydrothermal vents that geologist predicted. As the ocean is
isolated, these vents may have undiscovered species of vent animals
and microbes. Click the link above, or See Jan. 18 Science
- Jan.-Feb: Robotic probes explore the oceans. In recent
years, several types of robotic vehicles have been designed to
explore, measure and map the deep ocean. Two new articles on these
give details: Nature v.421 p. 468 (30-Jan-03); and
Science News 1-Feb-03 p. 75.
- Jan. 31: Resources of the deep sea: An article by P. Rona
in the 31-Jan-03 Science, p.673, discusses the mineral and
petroleum resources of the deep ocean floor. Unique mineral
deposits form in the deep from hydrothermal activity.
- Apr. 02: Collosal
squid caught in the Antarctic: An intact but dead
Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, the collosal squid known only
from 6 specimens, was caught near Antarctica. This species is much
larger than the famous Giant Squid! It may grow well over 20m/66ft
in length, though no one knows. See also item 17 below.
- Apr 26: "A Rocky Start" is an article in the Apr. 26
Science News on recent research on the origin of
life. In particular, conditions at hydrothermal vents
along with iron-sulfide catalysis might have been the key.
- May 7: New species of huge jelly found in the
bathypelagic: off Central California, researchers from MBARI have
discoverd "Big Red," a meter-wide jelly with short arms instead of
tentacles, which they think lives between 600 and 1500m
(bathypelagic). Little else is known.
- June 7: A record high temperature for life was reported by
Kashefi and colleagues at the Amer. Soc. Microbiology meeting in
May. They report isolating a archaeon (archaebacterium) from
volcanic fluid on the Pacific seafloor; the microbe can grow at
121C and even live at 130C (the previous record was
113C). See the June 7 issue of Science News, p.366.
- May 31: The earliest life on Earth was probably in hot
springs or hydrothermal vents, according to a new genetic
analysis showing the relatedness of all major life groups
correlated by thermal tolerance. The analysis yields an
evolutionary tree that shows the earliest life forms were adapted
to very high temperatures. See New Scientist May 31 2003,
p.20, or click the link.
- June 14: The Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench has now
been found to be the result of one tectonic plate being forced
under another plate in a way that is causing the first plate to be
torn in two. This creates the great depth of this trench. See
New Scientist June 14, 2003, p.16.
- June 26: More information was released on the odd Gakkel
Ridge, the spreading center hidden under the Arctic icecap.
This ridge is deeper and slower-spreading than other ridge areas,
and has unexpectedly high hydrothermal activity. See Nature
26-June 2003, p.932.
- July 2: Mysterious deep-sea blob washes
ashore in Chile. It might be a rare 40-foot (12-meter) giant
octopus from 3000m, or something more mundane such as a piece of
whale skin, or a conglomeration of plankton. See news item #12
under "2002 NEWS" below for a real deep-sea octopus. UPDATEs
DEC. 2003/July 2004: Researchers use molecular analysis to discover
that the blob is skin from a sperm whale!
- July 26: Hydrothermal Mineral formations at the Lost City
on the MidAtlantic Ridge may be at least 30,000 years old. See
Science NewsJuly 26, p. 52. See 2005 news for
an update! Meanwhile, an expedition explored the methane seeps of the
Blake Ridge off the SE USA.
- July 26-Aug. 10: Iron-eating microbes on the Titanic
are described in an article in New Scientist,
July 26, p. 36..
- July 31: Larve of hydrothermal vent animals may spread to
other vents from their parents by following currents within a rift
valley. Thomson et al. report in Nature v424 p545
(July 31) on these vent-induced currents that stay within the
valley of the Endeavor Ridge off Washington State.
- Aug. 2: The giant and collosal squids are discussed in an
article in New Scientist2-Aug-03, p. 24.
See item 6 above also.
- Aug. 21: A deep-sea sponge's skeleton is a fiber-optic
device as good as or better than human-made cables...click the
link, or see Nature Aug. 21 issue.
- Aug. 22: Seamounts (undersea mountains) off Cape Cod were
explored in July, and a news story appeared in the Aug. 22
issue of Science. Seamounts, of which there may
be 30,000 in the sea, are largely unexplored, and so far have been
fouhnd to have many animals species previously unknown. Click the
blue link for information on the internet.
- Sept. 3: A deep-sea nursery for blob sculpin and an octopus
were discovered by MBARI scientists using an ROV on a ridge off
N. California. Large numbers of the fish and octopod were found
brooding their eggs on the ridge, a behavior not before documented.
- Sept. 9 and Aug. 15: Record high temperature found for life discovered:
130C (266F) for a vent microbe (Aug. 15). The discovery was by
Dr. D. Lovley and colleagues (Science, Aug. 15 issue), who
later reported that these microbes use IRON as an energy source and
produce MAGNETITE as a result. Magnetite is the naturally
magnetic mineral that humans first used to make compasses.
- Oct. 23: The Census
of Marine Life is a decade-long project (involving 53 coutries)
that hopes to catalogue as many marine species as possible. New
species are being found routinely, including new
species of deep-sea fish. See also this CBS News Story.
- Nov. 6: Jellies are turning out to have a far greater role
in ocean ecosystems than previously suspected, especially in the
deep sea.The 6-Nov-03 issue of Nature (vol. 426,
pp12-14) has a news feature on "Close encounters of the jelly
kind" describing the latest research with submersibles, etc. An
example of a newly discovered deep-sea jelly can be found in this
- Nov. 7: Hot-vent gastropod has iron-sulfide armor!
Waren et al. report in the 7-Nov-03 Science (p. 1007) that a
snail from Indian-Ocean hydrothermal vents has unique plates of
iron-sulfide crystals covering its foot.
- Dec. 17: WHOI
(Woods Hole Oceanogr. Inst) announced plans to build a "hybrid" ROV
to dive to the greatest ocean depths. The Japanese ROV
KAIKO had been the only vehicle that could dive to the
deepest depths, visiting the Marianas Trench in 1995.
Unfortunately, it was lost at sea in Sept. 2003.