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
- Apr. 02: Collosal
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
- 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
- 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,
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 Zootaxa
- 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.