Naive question about black smokers at the ocean rifts

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In summary: The answer is that life forms that live near black smokers can travel vast distances through the water and survive harsh conditions.
  • #1
GreatBigBore
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Naive: how are black smokers at the ocean rifts colonized?

Ok, please don't hammer me. It's a very naive question. I assume that abiogenesis is not occurring at the black smokers, or there would be worldwide press about it. So how can the colonizing life forms (tube worms, lobster things, shrimp things) get all the way across the relatively cold ocean to get to the smokers?
 
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  • #2
Cold ocean? A smoker spits water at 400°C...
 
  • #3
No Soma, Bore was asking how did the organisms which live around the black smoker in the hot water get there in the first place as to get there they would need to pass through lots of cold water first.

Maybe they just evolved there when the sea was shallower, i.e as the rift was forming and followed the smokers down as old ones would go otu and new ones would form as the oceon's plates moved.
 
  • #4
Well it starts with bacteria developing there... then the other animals stroll on in feeding on the bacteria and it develops a mini-ecosystem with a complete food chain. Some of the organisms that are there specifically evolved for life there over many, many years.
 
  • #5
Some nice articles and pictures of ocean floor communities from MBARI:

http://www.mbari.org/topics/biology/bio-seafloor.htm
 
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  • #6
Organisms can travel vast distances through the water, when they hit the right conditions they will start to thrive.
 
  • #7
Let's also consider that in harsh extremes of living-condition, nature will select for organisms that can go into dormancy (of one kind of another) until things improve. Ocean currents can transport such potential survivors all over the globe until conditions are right.
 
  • #8
Many of the relevant organisms release larvae and eggs that do not require hot water very soon. They can drift considerable distances before they run out of food stores (or luck!) If they drift or swim near to another smoker they settle down and establish a new population.
There are many variations on the theme. The whole business is marvellous almost beyond bearing...

Jon
 

What are black smokers at ocean rifts?

Black smokers are hydrothermal vents found on the ocean floor near mid-ocean ridges. They emit hot, mineral-rich water that appears black due to the presence of iron sulfide minerals.

How are black smokers formed?

Black smokers are formed when seawater seeps into the ocean floor and is heated by magma chambers beneath the surface. The hot water dissolves minerals from the surrounding rocks and is then ejected back into the ocean through the vents.

What role do black smokers play in the ocean ecosystem?

Black smokers are important sources of energy and nutrients for deep-sea organisms. They support unique ecosystems that are not reliant on sunlight, but rather on chemosynthesis, where bacteria use the chemicals in the vent fluid to produce energy.

Are there any potential benefits of black smokers for humans?

Black smokers have been found to contain valuable minerals and metals such as copper, zinc, and gold. There is ongoing research into the potential for mining these resources, but it is a controversial topic as it could cause significant damage to the delicate deep-sea ecosystems.

What challenges do scientists face when studying black smokers?

Studying black smokers is extremely challenging due to their location in the deep ocean and the extreme conditions they exist in, such as high pressure and temperatures. It also requires specialized equipment and technology to access and study the vents.

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