Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College

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**UPDATED AUG. 2008 with ALVIN photos**
Some of these photos are mine, others are ones I took from the ROV Oceanic Explorer's camera monitor or from the ALVIN's various cameras (with permission of Drs Lisa Levin and Ray Lee). Please write for permission to use (see above)
Vent chimneys with tubeworms on the Juan de Fuca Ridge.
The tops of the chimneys are too hot for animals.

See my MAIN PAGE for details (look for the Vents and Seeps section). Here is a summary:

Hydrothermal Vents are oceanic hot springs in volcanically active areas; they are mostly deep and along the midocean ridges in the rift valleys that form from seafloor spreading (but sometimes they are shallow, e.g., near Iceland or volcanic islands in the Mediterranean. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge emerges above sealevel in Iceland, where there are hot springs and geysers instead of hydrothermal vents). At the deep-sea vents, hot (up to 400C) mineral-laden water provides abundant energy, mostly as H2S (rotten-egg-smelling hydrogen sulfide). Bacteria and archaea use H2S for energy, forming the basis of the food chain. Vesicomyid clams, mussels and vestimentiferan tubeworms with symbionts are found here (relatives of those found at cold seeps). The microbes use a process called chemosynthesis (see ONR site for more information). Limpets, snails and other worms graze on microbial mats and filaments. Fish, octopods and crabs are carnivores and scavengers.

Our studies are on adaptation of vent animals to high pressure and toxic sulfide. We have used specimens provided by Drs. G. Somero (Stanford), C. Fisher (Penn State), R. Lee (WSU), C. Van Dover (William and Mary); and 2007/2008 specimens collected by me and colleagues on the Juan de Fuca Ridge off Washington State in Alvin studies lead by Dr. Ray Lee of Washington State University.

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge rift valley above sealevel in Iceland.
The left side is headed towards North America, the right side towards Europe
Photo by Carrie Laxson

On this PAGE -->
MORE ON VENTS: visit the ONR Hydrothermal Vents Site for animations and more.

A. JUAN de FUCA Ridge--Endeavour Segment: our 2007 & 2008 expeditions led by Drs. Ray Lee (Wash. State Univ.) and Peter Girguis (Harvard) with the ALVIN aboard the R/V Atlantis. Click here for a NOAA map of the Ridge
Locations on the Ridge:

1. MOTHRA/FAULTY TOWERS site, Juan de Fuca Ridge; 2.3km deep (click here for paper with fantastic mosaic image of Faulty Towers)
ABOVE: Chimneys/smokers at Faulty Towers (with names like Roane, Giraffe, etc). Note that ROANE (5th image, top) was decapitated by UW in 1998 for analysis of microbial life (it is now on display in the Amer. Museum of Natl. history).
RIGHT: more towers
FAR ABOVE: a smoker chimney being collected with Alvin claw; JUST ABOVE: the chimney on the ship, broken open to reveal lining of IRON PYRITE (Fool's Gold) crystals
ABOVE: Black and white smokers
Vent snails B. thermophilus
Unidentified jelly!
Crab on tower
Snails on tower
P. sulfincola; Ridgeia
Ridgeia close-up
Ridgeia "bush"

of the Ridge; 2.2 km deep
; HULK and DANTE edifices; also CLAMBED site north of Main
White and black smoker chimneys, some with tubeworms (most at DANTE formation)
Alvin sampling black smoker water
HULK formation
More smoker formations (Dante)
Carb, orange mat, tubeworms
Ridgeia tubeworm colonies; rightmost one is of long-skinny form at CLAMBED vent site
Fish with vent snails
Paralvinella palmiformis

region just off the Juan de Fuca Ridge; 2.4 km deep

White smoker chimneys
Sulfide SEEP with unnamed species of Vesicomyid clams
(see close-up of clam in ANIMALS section below)
Bathyraja skate
Ridgeia tubeworm 'bush'
Venus flytrap anemone
Graneledone octopod near Middle Valley site
Unidentified cucumbers in Middle Valley

--Endeavour Segment of Juan de Fuca Ridge
Lava formations on the Juan de Fuca rift valley floor (Endeavour segment)
Animals seen on the rift valley floor (coral, fishes, skate eggcases, octopods)

5. ANIMALS brought back on ALVIN to the ship from the Juan de Fuca ridge:
Paralvinella worms in vent chimneys
Ridgeia, LS (long-skinny) form
Ridgeia, the SF (short-fat) form; shown dissected in the 2 righthand images
Paralvinella palmiformis
Paralvinella sulfincola
Scale worms in Ray Lee's pressure chamber
Scale worms (covered with bacterial filaments, right)
Maldonid (bamboo) worm
Limpet Lepidodrilus
Limpet ?
Juan de Fuca vent mussel? A rare specimen
Unnamed species of Vesicomyid clam
from Middle Valley seeps
Anemone near Middle Valley seeps
Pycnogonid (male carrying eggs; right)
B. thermophilus vent snail with limpet
Graneledone octopod from Middle Valley
Galatheid crab from Middle Valley
Vent ciliate! (single-celled protozoa that form tubes to make a blue mat)

B. Mediterranean Sea; Mid-Atlantic Ridge; East Pacific Rise

A shallow hydrothermal vent off Vulcano, an Italian island in the Mediterranean. Note the sulfur deposits. For the deeper vents on the mid-ocean ridges, see:
ONR site for animations, pictures, detailed information.

Bathymodiolus mussel from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (provided by Cindy Van Dover). These have bacterial symbionts in their gills. Rimicaris shrimp from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (provided by Cindy Van Dover). These unique animals swim in and out of hot vents, have no eyestalks, but have unique eyepatches on their backs. Dr. Van Dover hypothesizes that these sense faint light (either infrared or from chemiluminescent reactions) from the vents.

The most "famous" animals of the hydrothermal vents are the giant Riftia tubeworms (vestimentiferans; Siboglinid family of polychaetes). They are up to 2 m (6 feet) long! They have no guts, and live off their symbionts (see SEEP TUBEWORM for more on this process).

For better pictures and a video, see U. Delaware Tubeworm site and Peter Batson's photos below.

BELOW are copyrighted photos courtesy of PETER BATSON, author of Deep New Zealand - Blue Water, Black Abyss. Please contact him for permission at his website, ExploreTheAbyss. See MIDWATER page for more of his photos.
Alvinella, a polychaete tubeworm that may be able to live in water of 50C or higher.
Tevnia, a small vestimentiferan tubeworm often found with Riftia.
A plume of Riftia (see description of these tubeworms under my photo, above right)
A Riftia body out of its tube
Brittle stars, limpets at a vent
Thermarces fish at a vent
Munidopsis galatheid crab
Bythograea crab at a vent