|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 News, p.37.
- 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.
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 News July 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
Scientist 2-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 Zootaxa article.
- 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.