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Hydrothermal Vents

40 Years of Hydrothermal Vent Exploration

Forty years ago, a team of researchers including our founder Dr. Robert Ballard discovered hydrothermal vents smoking deep below the Galapagos Islands. This 1977 discovery changed our understanding of Earth processes and the possibilities for life to thrive on this planet.

Hydrothermal vents are fissures in the Earth’s surface that spew superheated, mineral-rich water–like geysers fueled by volcanoes! Communities of organisms from tube worms to squat lobsters live off these rich outflows from the planet’s core, converting chemicals into nutrients and thriving in the ocean’s most extreme environment.

Join Dr. Ballard and the Corps of Exploration as we revisit some of the most spectacular vent systems we’ve explored–including the 2017 Nautilus exploration in the Gulf of California.

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