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Find out what a hydrothermal vent is and how it forms.
n November 10, 2008, an international research team led by University of Delaware marine scientist Craig Cary will set sail from Manzanillo, Mexico, on the 21-day expediDr. Craig Cary tion Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure.
a look at some of the strange creatures that inhabit the deep.
Learn about the submersible Alvin and the history of deep-sea research.
Their mission will be to explore one of the most demanding environments on the planet: hydrothermal vents. These underwater geysers erupt at cracks in the Earthʼs crust, where new seafloor is being born.
The scientific team, representing the University of Delaware, University of Southern California, University of Colorado, University of North Carolina, J. Craig Venter Institute, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, will live aboard the 274-foot research vessel Atlantis and dive to the depths in the submersible Alvin.
The ocean’s greatest depths once were believed to support only a few organisms. But in the past three decades, intrepid explorers, diving to the seafloor in high-tech submersibles, have disproved that notion. They have discovered that a number of unusual creatures inhabit some areas of the deep sea — at underwater geysers called hydrothermal vents. Here, over a mile beneath the ocean’s surface, live dinner-plate-sized clams reeking of sulfur, towering tubeworms resembling giant lipsticks, ghost-white crabs prowling for prey, pinkish eel-like fish, and the microscopic bacteria that hold together this strange web of life. Scientists are exploring hydrothermal vent sites to learn more about this “extreme” environment and its unique community of organisms. After all, vent dwellers thrive under some of the most demanding conditions on the planet. They live in a world of total darkness. They are constantly bathed in toxic water that rockets out of the vents. And while most of the deep sea is just above freezing, the water erupting from the vents is super-hot,up to 360°C (680°F)! What’s more, the atmospheric pressure exerted on these organisms from the vast ocean above them is more than 250 times the pressure we feel on land.
How can this ecosystem thrive in such harsh conditions? Researchers involved in Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure are searching for the answers and invite you to join them in their voyage to the depths. Turn the page and learn more about hydrothermal vents, the creatures that inhabit vent sites, the technology that makes deepsea research possible, and the discoveries that scientists are making. Let’s dive in!
The submersible Alvin, with a crew of two scientists and a pilot inside, is lowered from the research vessel Atlantis into the Pacific Ocean.
The scientists will examine the tiniest life at the vents, including marine viruses. Biologists, chemists, and geologists will all work together to better understand the web of life in this hostile environment of extreme temperature, toxic chemicals, high pressure, and darkness. For daily blogs, photos, and videos of the scientistsʼ activities, dive in to our interactive Web site:
The Pompeii worm, an inhabitant of hydrothermal vent sites, is one of the most heattolerant animals on the planet.
Produced by the University of Delaware with support from the National Science Foundation
about 210 miles southwest of Guam.700 meters (12. The divers were housed in the sphere at the bottom of the sub. These plates are continually shifting because the surface beneath them — the hot. becomes super-heated by magma. In fact. giving way to the steeper continental slope. magma from the Earth’s interior percolates up to fill the gap. is in an active vent field in the Pacific Ocean west of Costa Rica. Students. ridges.225 kilometers (1. or slide past each other.S. snakes around the globe. Earth’s Moving Crust Spawns Vents. Scientists have calculated that the Earth’s inner core — a solid sphere composed primarily of iron — is about 5. It ranges in thickness from only about 3 kilometers (2 mi) in some areas of the ocean floor to some 120 kilometers (75 mi) deep under mountains on the continents. and then gushes back out into the ocean. As the plates move farther apart.S. The shelf ends at a depth of about 200 meters (660 ft).000 ft) to the deep ocean basin. Here. only on a much larger scale. The deeper you go inside the Earth. This is where most hydrothermal vents are located. with great plains and mountains.000 mi) long.500° C (10. magma-filled mantle — is moving slowly like a conveyor belt. The shelf varies in size. It is where the planet’s crustal plates are moving apart. North America Plate Ma ntle The Earth’s size is constant. the “deep sea” may be just above ankle level in the ocean. the ocean floor deepens sharply and its features resemble those on land.000 kilometers (35. Over 56. This process. and canyons. this underwater gorge plunges to a depth of nearly 7 miles! In 1960. Volcanoes & Quakes Understanding where hydrothermal vents occur requires a closer look at the Earth’s structure and the forces at work deep within the planet. Did you know that the Earth’s longest mountain range is underwater? The Mid-Ocean Ridge system. called the Mid-Ocean Ridge system. driven by the heat in the Earth’s core. It is 1. Donald Walsh made history when they descended in the U. M On the map to your right. the hotter it gets. The Mid-Ocean Ridge marks one of the most geologically active areas on Earth. collide. can you convert the measurements into metric units? U. The shelf has features similar to those we see on land. It’s the submerged portion of the continents. Crust is destroyed when the edge of one tectonic plate is forced underneath . The continental shelf extends underwater from each of the major land masses. That’s about the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Navy bathyscaphe Trieste (left) to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The crust is very thin and brittle compared to the other layers. the Earth’s longest mountain range is underwater.400 kiloInner meters (1. so as the crust expands through seafloor spreading in one area. According to the theory of plate tectonics. The solid inner Solid core is about 2.554 miles long and averages 44 miles wide. Naval Historical Center Photograph molten rock called magma. sometimes causing earthquakes and the eruption of undersea volcanoes. The MidOcean Ridge — the Earth’s underwater mountain range — marks where the plates are pulling apart. the Earth’s crust is made up of about a dozen plates on which the continents and the oceans rest. It is surrounded by a liquid outer core about 2. Earth’s tectonic plates can move apart. the continental slope.5 in) to 15 centimeters (6 in) per year in different directions (see map at right). or crust.GEOLOGY OF THE OCEAN FLOOR To someone who can’t swim. crust must be swallowed up elsewhere. As the plates part. It is where new seafloor is being born. which descends about 3. and the deep ocean basin. So what do scientists mean when they refer to the “deep sea”? The ocean floor is divided into three major areas: the continental shelf. is how new seafloor is formed. which is composed of hot. called seafloor spreading. The churning of the magma generates pressure on the Earth’s surface layer. marked above by the submersible Alvin. One of the Extreme 2008 dive sites.000 mi) long. shown above snaking its way between the continents. Cold seaPacific Plate water seeps deep down into these cracks. Within it. Named the “Challenger Deep” for the British survey ship Challenger II that located it in 1951. giving rise to hydrothermal vents and volcanoes. Adapted from NOAA It is beyond the continental shelf that the “deep sea” begins. this mountain range.000°F). The plates currently move about a centimeter (0. HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? The Mariana Trench is a depression in the Pacific Ocean.000 kilometers (35. It may be virtually non-existent in some areas. id O uter Co re qu Li Crust Bordering the liquid outer core is the mantle. east of the Mariana Islands. The shelf’s average distance is about 64 kilometers (40 mi).380 mi) thick. the continental shelf is the light-blue area that edges the continents. is more than 56. forming hydrothermal vents. Jacques Piccard and Navy Lt. elsewhere it may extend a great distance from shore. lies the deepest known point on Earth.500 mi) in Core diameter. It marks the areas where the Earth’s crustal plates are moving apart. including hills. the seafloor cracks.
oxygen-rich seawater. A hydrothermal vent is a geyser on the seafloor. which spurs more chemical reactions.” M “White smokers” release fluid more slowly and are cooler (250° – 300°C) than their cousins. Besides providing habitat for an intriguing community of life. the ocean floor cracks. zinc. 3 1 Liquid Outer Core The deeper you go into Earth’s interior. Oxygen. Since then. chemical reactions occur. from towering tubeworms to little-known species of octopus. Hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977 in the Pacific Ocean. These compounds give the smoker its black color. It results in earthquakes. they have been found in the Atlantic. and sulfur from the crust dissolve into the fluid. volcanoes. 3 Eurasia Plate Africa Plate South America Plate Australia Plate Adapted from NOAA As the hot fluid gushes out onto the ocean floor. iron. M This is the inside of a vent chimney. or magma. calcium. vent sites teem with a fascinating array of life.s 4 Antarctic Plate This map shows the major tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust and the directions in which they are moving.500°C (10. up to 60 meters high (196 ft). These smokestacks are formed from dissolved metals that precipitate out (form into particles) when the super-hot vent water meets the surrounding seawater. Visit us at www. It has the tallest vent chimneys known. 5 another.” a vent chimney in the Pacific Ocean off Oregon. the huge plates that form the Earth’s crust are moving apart. spew hot fluid (350°– 400° C) filled with metals (mostly iron) and sulfur.100 meters (7. Chimneys top some vents.” a geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the United States.expeditions. reached the height of a 15-story building before it toppled. potassium. Copper.000°F). Hydrogen sulfide (a compound toxic to most organisms) forms. In 2000. How do hydrothermal vents form? In some areas along the Mid-Ocean Ridge. These minerals build the vent chimneys.University of Washington scientists discovered the “Lost City” vent field in the Atlantic Ocean. Most vents occur at an average depth of about 2. and the formation of deep ocean trenches.000 ft) in areas of seafloor spreading along the Mid-Ocean Ridge system — the underwater mountain chain that snakes around the globe. beneath the crust. Although most of the deep ocean is sparsely populated. It continuously gushes super-heated. below the crust. And the core is the yolk. the hotter it Solid gets. Yet this water typically does not boil because of the pressure from the tremendous weight of the ocean above. The mantle is the egg white. mineral-rich water that supports a diverse community of organisms. There are many reasons why scientists want to learn more about hydrothermal vents. There are so many volcanoes along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean basin the area is known as the “Ring of Fire. it meets cold. The inner core is Inner Core believed to be as hot as Diameter: 5. spouting boiling water heated by volcanic rock deep within the Earth’s crust. rises. This geyser erupts several times a day. and minerals “rain out” from the fluid.225 km The seawater is heated by molten rock in the Earth’s mantle. and circulation patterns. Cold seawater seeps deep down into the openings. think of a hardboiled egg. This dynamic process is called subduction. Presently. causing deep cracks in the ocean floor.900 km HOW DOES A VENT WORK As the Earth’s crustal plates move apart. When this “hot spring” gushes out into the ocean. these underwater geysers are believed to play an important role in the ocean’s temperature. The deeper the fluid goes.400 km Thickness: 2. and silicon. which is only a few degrees above freezing. chemistry. or “fool’s gold. As the water heats.edu/extreme08 . As the water heats up. which are white. Indian. the hotter it gets. “Black smokers.” The orange areas are oxidized iron. The crust is like the egg’s thin shell. its temperature may be as high as 400° C (752° F) or more. which combine to form black minerals called metal sulfides. 2. The super-heated fluid. Seawater seeps into these openings and is heated by the molten rock. 2 To understand Earth’s structure. and Arctic oceans. The fluid contains compounds of barium. the Earth’s core is divided into two parts: a liquid outer core and a solid inner core.” represented in this illustration. now laden with dissolved metals. and other minerals are removed from the seawater.5 Extreme 2008 1 4 Crust Thickness: 3 –120 km HYDROTHERMAL VENTS 2 Many of us are familiar with “Old Faithful. Geologists are intrigued by how rapidly vent chimneys grow — as much as a whopping 30 centimeters (12 in) a day! “Godzilla. The shimmering gold material is the mineral pyrite. magnesium. it rises. However. the Pacific Ocean basin is shrinking as other ocean basins expand. Mantle Thickness: 2.udel.
long sharp teeth. These photos are a few of the deep-sea dwellers that UD marine scientists have seen en route to vent sites nearly 3. which is strong evidence that liquid water lies below. too! Magnified view of vent bacteria on the surface of pyrite. The fish that live there must rely on what little food floats down from above — often referred to as “marine snow” — or eat their neighbors! Deep-sea fish typically have big mouths. Snow-like blooms of bacteria may also occur. Bacteria Play Mighty Role in Vent Ecosystem The hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals that rocket out of hydrothermal vents would be poisonous to most organisms. one of Jupiter’s moons. Food is scarce in the deep sea. vent microbes might live there. one of Jupiter’s moons? Ca lte Still other vent dwellers harbor bacteria inside their bodies to make food for them. Their survival depends on a symbiotic relationship with the billions of bacteria that live inside them — some 285 billion bacteria per ounce of the worm. Sometimes tubeworms provide food for other deep-sea dwellers. these microbes are 4 microns long. eyes. by some estimates.edu/extreme08 M . because these extremophiles can thrive in high temperature and pressure.460 ft). Scientists are also curious about the deep sea’s tiniest life because these organisms are among the oldest on Earth. from microscopic bacteria to giant tubeworms. it might be vent microbes. In fact. also known as eelpouts — fish have been found at great depths elsewhere in the ocean. they could have valuable uses —in generating electricity from waste. these microscopic organisms had been discovered in another “extreme environment”: hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. But exotic animals flourish in this harsh environment thanks to unique adaptations and special relationships with the tiniest life at the vents: bacteria. Shaped like cylinders. to name but a few. is covered in ice. Additionally. thrive under some of the most demanding conditions on the planet. On land and in the ocean’s surface layer. Such is the life of many of the organisms that inhabit hydrothermal vent sites! These creatures. and in making new pharmaceuticals to thwart germs that are resistant to current drugs. Tubeworms have no mouth. Kirk Czymmek.600 to 5. microbes get their energy from chemicals within the Earth — a process called chemosynthesis. for example. bear the weight of the ocean on their shoulders. ch M L/ /J P SA NA M C R E AT U R E S O F T H E D E E P As they descend to the deep ocean bottom. called “fangtooth. which. It grows to about 25 centimeters (10 in) long.000 meters (9.000 ft).524 meters (2. and microbes. lie beneath the frozen surface of Europa. However. And what further distinguishes them from other life on Earth is their energy source. Tubeworms. Slow-moving zoarcid fish that inhabit vent sites prey on organisms such as deep-sea shrimp. A by-product of this activity is oxygen. eyes. depend on bacteria for food. bathe in — and in many cases — even eat.842 ft) down. Do hydrothermal vents.” is found at depths of 800 to 1.expeditions. red plume. DRAGONFISH. Astrobiologists speculate that if there is life on other planets. This is the only complex ecosystem known to live on energy from chemicals from the Earth rather than energy from the sun. In fact. in turn.000 mete many deep-sea fish rely luminescent (light-produ organs to find a mate an prey. If vents exist on Europa. They may grow as tall as 3 meters (8 ft). an ancient life form — Archaea (“ark-ee-uh”) — has been found at vent sites. the food chain is based on photosynthesis. and stretchy stomachs to catch prey in the dark and swallow it whole. toxic chemicals. at deep-sea vents. This ferocious-looking fish. causing a temporary “white-out” at the vents. Univ. Europa. Vent crabs nip at the tubeworm’s hemoglobin-rich. the process by which green plants use sunlight to make food and energy. The water may be maintained in its liquid state by hydrothermal vents.udel. Frontiers of Science Scientists want to know more about the tiniest life at the vents because these microbes serve as the mighty first link in the food chain of this strange ecosystem. of Delaware VENTS SPROUT WEIRD WORMS! Giant tubeworms (Riftia pachyptila) live over a mile deep on the Pacific Ocean floor near hydrothermal vents. They get energy from bacteria living inside them. While few deep-sea fish live at hydrothermal vent sites — with the exception of pale eellike zoarcids. have no mouth. marine scientists might encounter any number of bizarre-looking organisms. where the sun’s rays never reach.BIOLOGY OF DEEP-SEA LIFE They can withstand a broad range of temperatures. This fish has a long barbel that glows in the Visit us at www. or stomach. How low can they go? The greatest depth at which a fish has been recorded is 8. Thick mats of bacteria cover the seafloor and volcanic rock. FA N G T O O T H . These bacteria convert the chemicals rocketing out of the vents into food for the worms. removing radioactive metals from the environment. it has been estimated that microscopic plants in the ocean generate half the oxygen we breathe. illuminated in their submersibleʼs headlights. Previously.370 meters (27. there is no natural light ocean below 1. or stomach (“gut”). Recent findings suggest that portions of the ice move. and never see the light of day. These bacteria convert the chemicals rocketing out of the vents into worm fuel.
On a previous expedition. high-pressure environments. viruses within the hostile vent environment. the researchers will retrieve and analyze the samples. which was destroyed during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A. “For many years. DEEP-SEA OCTOPUS Hair-like projections (“cirri”) line the webbed arms of this octopus. By inserting a temperature probe called “the Mosquito. or families of viruses. Caron’s group placed glass slides and an artificial mini-reef around the vents in order to collect protozoa. Scientists are working to access the genetic information tied up in the bacteria. associate professor of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware is leading the Extreme 2008 virus team. in turn. new genes and protein groups and possibly entirely new viral clades. Data from the research will expand efforts to describe the full extent of genetic diversity on the planet. Craig Venter Institute. you’ve been the victim of a virus—a microscopic bundle of genetic material in a protein shell. samples from the deep will show that protozoa feed on bacteria or the products of bacterial activity. Cary found that the worm’s rear end sits in water as hot as 176° F. in some cases changing harmless bacteria into pathogens.” said chief scientist Craig Cary. Univ. The team observed ciliates similar to this shallow-water Euplotes species at the vents in 2007. David Caron and his University of Southern California team are examining an overlooked link in the vent food chain—protozoa. eaten by larger life forms. The worm lives in paper-like tube colonies attached to vent chimneys. It simply hasn’t been looked at to any degree. and there’s no reason to believe that they aren’t doing the same thing in the vents. in addition to performing other major functions in ecosystem health. On this trip. If Caron is correct. the vents have been explored with little to no attention to viruses and protists. metal detoxification. University of Delaware marine biologist Craig Cary and his colleagues made international headlines when they determined that the Pompeii worm is able to survive a bath as hot as 176°F. Dr. At right is a magnified bacteriophage — a virus that eats bacteria. The Pompeii worm is about 4 inches long with feathery red gills on its head. at 131°F. they have the most dramatic effect on the bacterial communities that support the vent system. Wommack said. which serve as vital links in the food chain. Because viruses can significantly alter the biological characteristics of their microbial hosts. These projections may help it sense food in the darkness. and are. The scientists’ main objective is to explore the abundant. rests in much cooler water. holds pieces of a hydrothermal vent chimney.” from the submersible Alvin into the worm’s tube. y on bioucing) nd lure g chin dark. it is possible that viruses at the vents are intimately involved in helping microbial life cope with the challenging conditions of the deep-sea ecosystem. these microscopic organisms act like tiny animals and hunt bacteria and other microbes for food. Drs. The worm displays a remarkably broad temperature gradient along its hairy body. Dave Caron and Karla Heidelberg and assistant Lauren Farrar from the University of Southern California assemble protist traps from sponges and glass slides in the ship’s lab. with co-investigators Cary. The current record holder for the most heat-tolerant organism on the planet is “Strain 121” collected at a hydrothermal vent site 200 miles off Puget Sound in 2003. “Protozoa are everywhere and they’re in virtually every environment.Extreme 2008 Solving Microbial Mysteries A major focus of the Extreme 2008 expedition is microbes — tiny organisms that have giant impacts on our world. A virus can’t grow or reproduce unless it is inside another organism’s cells. This species is also equipped with paddle-like fins to help it swim. Our research programs are among the first to focus on these remarkable scavengers. but largely unknown.” Caron said. only about 72° F.” If you’ve ever had a cold or the flu. These findings are of interest to industry. M From left. Eric Wommack. It can reproduce at temperatures hotter than boiling — 250°F. corrosive. while its gill-covered head. M . The former record holder was the Sahara Desert ant. professor of marine biosciences at the University of Delaware. which may reveal the genes involved in heat tolerance. K. of Delaware Pompeii Worm Can “Take the Heat” Below the Pompeii worm’s feathery red gills is a structure that resembles a ball of yarn when not in use: the buccal feeding tube. The Alvinella in the worm’s scientific name stems from the submersible Alvin. as well as the scientific community. They want to understand how viruses affect the composition and diversity of bacteria. They play this intermediate food web role in a number of these environments. It is named for the Roman city of Pompeii. likely revealing Kathy Atkinson. Eric Wommack. The worm extends this tube to eat bacteria that grow in long filaments. a virus researcher at the University of Delaware. The heat-hardiest higher-order organism also hails from the vents. M Since in the ers (3. The viruses collected will be examined using high-throughput DNA sequencing technology and high-powered computing.300 ft).D. and Shannon Williamson of the J. In other environments. because they may yield enzymes capable of operating in hot. and cell-to-cell communication. A gray “fleece” of bacteria covers the worm’s back. “Yet because these organisms consume bacteria. Dr. which often pokes out of the worm’s tube home. In 1998.
810 ft). engineers. sediment.25 m (1. The oar openings were sealed with tight-fitting leather flaps. than 13. American tom of the Mariana Trench. (This word is derived from the Greek words bathos — “deep” and scaphos — “ship.700 new species of marine life. Some suits feature thruster packs to boost a diver to different locations underwater.000 ft). Cornelius van Drebel. and robotics. scientists are making exciting discoveries In 1960. thanks (top) and Donald Walsh depths. Deep-sea exploration advanced dramatically in the 1900s with a series of inventions. a program of the U.8 miles). Navy and operated by tect them. computers. from discovering giant tubeworms in the Pacific Ocean near the Galápagos Islands. observations by telephone to a colleague. such as the “Jim suit. which consisted of a lead weight with a hollow bottom attached to a line. The researchers used wire-line soundings to determine depths and collected hundreds of water. high-tech sensors. The fish was brought back to the surface and cooked for dinner! A new Alvin is now being constructed. map. to blooms of phytoplankton at the sea surface. The two men made the deepest dive in history: 10. opening 99% of the ocean floor to potential study. that was redesigned into a laboratory ship. These are a few highlights. this and engineer Otis Barton were three-person sub made its first dive in lowered to about 1. Viking sailors took measurements of ocean depth and sampled seafloor sediments with this device.expeditions. is credited by many historians with building the first submarine. 3.139 meters (10.000 scientists. a Dutch inventor. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Jacques Piccard and Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh descended in it to the deepest known point on Earth — the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.764 ft).500 meters (14.S. ranging from sonar — a system for detecting the presence of objects underwater through the use of sound — to manned submersibles such as Alvin. Oars extending out the sides propelled the craft through the water. As these observatories evolve. the Woods Hole Oceanooceanographer William Beebe graphic Institution. Alvin can carry a crew of one pilot and two scientists to a depth of 4.280 ft) in a 1964. The sub once was attacked by a swordfish. his invention. which became trapped between two pieces of the subʼs fiberglass skin. This term is still used today for nautical depth. withstood the pressure on it at 1. Because of the tremendous pressure. M On the deck of the 274-foot research vessel Atlantis. named FNRS 2. The deepest recorded dive by a scuba diver is 318.”) On an unpiloted dive in the Cape Verde Islands. Alvin has taken more round steel chamber called a bathysphere. to surveying the wreck of RMS Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean. technology. and biological samples from all the oceans except the Arctic. From 1872 to 1876.descended in the bathyscaphe Trieste to the botU. The new sub. The sub can by a long cable. National Science Foundation. deep-sea explorers made history when they to deep-sea submersibles must rely on specially consuch as Alvin.83-meter (6 ft) unit called a fathom. education. Miss Hollister.000 meters (3.6 meters (15 ft). they will give researchers new eyes into oceanic events and processes. scientists examine a vent chimney sample collected by the submersible Alvin. During the dive. The U. One of the first instruments used to investigate the sea bottom was the sounding weight. The sub is equipped with lights. Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard began testing a much deeper-diving vessel he invented called the bathyscaphe. the line was hauled back aboard ship and measured in the distance between a sailor’s outstretched arms — a 1. Owned by the U. a landmark ocean study was undertaken by British scientists aboard HMS Challenger.” enable divers to reach depths of about 600 meters (2. G E T T I N G T O T H E B O T T O M O F I T: T H E O C E A N In the 1950s. but its float was severely damaged by heavy waves after the dive. In 1934. dark ocean.890 nautical miles) and is credited with providing the first real view of major seafloor features such as the deep ocean basins. scientists have relied on a number of specialized tools to measure. Beebe dive as deep as 4.S. Since then.600 ft). Revolutionary new diving suits. Owned by the structed steel chambers to pro. from volcanic eruptions on the seafloor. We’ll have a whole new way of looking at the largest ecosystem on the planet: the ocean! M Visit us at www. to be completed in 2011. scientists hope to observe and monitor well-defined marine systems from the lab versus out of a porthole. Navy acquired Trieste in 1958 and equipped it with a new cabin to enable it to reach deep ocean trenches.044 ft). Drebel tested the sub in the Thames River in England between 1620 and 1624. the depth to which a diver can descend without special equipment is very limited. and view the ocean’s depths. and which was attached to a ship on the surface observers to the deep sea. giving peered out of a porthole and reported his it access to about 62% of the ocean floor. is focusing the science.udel.653 kilometers (68.EXPLORING THE DEEP Throughout history.500 m (over 4 miles). a sailing vessel Divers do a final safety check of Alvin’s hatch before the crew inside begins the descent to the seafloor. Jacques Piccard joined his father in building new and improved bathyscaphes including Trieste.402 meters (4.S. They discovered more than 4. at depths up to 4. and outreach of an emerging network of science-driven ocean observing systems to forge a new era of discovery.S.915 meters (35. Today. Once the weight reached the ocean floor and collected a sample of the seabed. which dived to In 1948. with the expanded use of fiber optics. Jacques Piccard To visit even greater about the ocean floor. His underwater vessel consisted of a wooden frame sheathed in leather. cameras. including deep-sea organisms. will descend to 6. The Challenger expedition covered 127. and highly maneuverable arms for collecting samples in the deep.300 ft) in field trials.500 m (2.edu/extreme08 . Alvin has conducted a wide variety of missions. King James I is said to have taken a short ride in the craft. In the future. The Ocean Observatories Initiative. on the surface. In 1960.
Alvin has two long.5 feet Gross Weight: 35. There’s enough room for two scientists to sit with their legs alongside each other. You cannot wear shoes. You also spend a lot of time laying on your side or stomach. depending on how deep you’re going. It’s very cramped. The 6. There’s a traditional lunch served to the scientists and crew on a dive: one peanut butter and jelly sandwich.D. including extra pairs of socks. Synthetic clothes are not permitted for fire safety reasons. Navy and operated as a national oceanographic facility by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole. M F R E Q U E N T LY A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S A B O U T A LV I N Julie Smith. a Ph.764 feet Cruising Speed: 0. student at the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies. Q. a magnetometer. you can tell you’re descending by the color of the water outside your porthole. How long does it take to get to the ocean bottom? A. Jewelry might scratch Alvin’s window. answers your questions about working in the sub. It’s very cramped inside the sub. How much room do you have in the sub? A. portable labs. Do you have to wear anything special in the sub? A. What’s it feel like when you’re descending? A. Since you’re generally very busy and lose track of time while you’re working. A typical dive lasts eight hours. so you have to bring a few layers of wool or cotton clothing. including crew. clawed arms called manipulators that are used to collect scientific specimens and place them in the sub’s collecting basket.S. a computer/data display/recording system. How big is Alvin? The sub (its official title is “Deep Submergence Vehicle”) is about 23 feet long and 12 feet high. operating your equipment and conducting experiments. Q. except when you’re bobbing on the surface. M What equipment does Alvin have? Its tools include sonar.5 knot Maximum Speed: 2 knots Max. Atlantis can carry up to 60 people. and inflatable rescue boats. and more.5-foot-diameter sphere in which the scientists work is made of titanium. a telephone. you tend to eat when you’re in transit between sites! Q. or any synthetic material (like nylon or Lycra) in the sub. and a piece of fruit. can you convert the measurements on this page into metric units? ? . The Deep Submergence Group at Woods Hole named Alvin. It gets very cold in the sub. scientists. one “mystery meat” sandwich. a candy bar.200 pounds Operating Depth: 14. Julie Smith Alvin Statistics Length: 23. laundry. Alvin’s pilot navigates the submersible along the seafloor. The sub was christened in 1964. Shoes would just get in the way.5 feet Height: 12 feet Draft: 7. M Extreme 2008 TOOLS OF THE TRADE FA C T S A B O U T A LV I N How did Alvin get its name? Alvin is owned by the U.The 83-meter (274-foot) research vessel Atlantis is the platform from which Alvin operates. A typical dive generally lasts eight hours. If you want to stretch out. video cameras. which typically carries two scientific observers in addition to the pilot. It gets dark pretty quickly — within about 10 minutes. The submersible Alvin is equipped with clawed arms called manipulators that are used by the pilot to collect scientific specimens and samples and place them in the sub’s collecting basket. and technicians. It was both a contraction of their colleague Allyn Vine’s name (he worked tirelessly to make the submersible a reality) and a reference to the popular cartoon chipmunk.3 feet Beam: 8. The temperature of the water is just above freezing. Q. Massachusetts. You actually sense very little motion inside the sub. 2 observers Students. it is possible for one (short) person to stand up with their head in the hatch. jewelry. The ship features hangars for Alvin and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles). Cruising Range: 3 miles Payload: 1. You usually work for four hours or so on the bottom before ascending. Mostly. About one to two hours. Q. looking out your porthole. What do you have for lunch in Alvin? A. and the pilot to crouch on a tiny padded bench. a machine shop. library. The scientists sit with their legs alongside each other while the pilot sits on a tiny padded bench.500 pounds Normal Dive Duration: 6 – 10 hours Life Support: 216 man-hours (72 hours x 3 persons) Complement: 1 pilot.
Michael D. Tracey Bryant.983295.com/oceanlink/4e/ “Deep Sea Vents: Science at the Extreme” www. TECHNOLOGY Word Definition Here are some terms to define: bathyscaphe bathysphere fiber optics HMS Challenger “Jim suit” ROV scuba sonar submersible Trieste BIOLOGY Word Definition Here are some terms to define: Archaea biocomplexity chemosynthesis genomics microbe photosynthesis sulfur symbiosis tubeworm virus Design a Submersible A new Alvin is now under construction. Visit us at www. If you could design a submersible. Convert the British units of measure in the “How Deep Is the Ocean?” article in the Geology section to metric units. Wyville. C.gov/ocean_planet.S. Do some research and tell us all about it. Math Activities Let’s test your knowledge of the metric system. Geological Survey — This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics by W.gov/publications/text/ dynamic.DIVE DEEPER! This eight-page resource guide is designed to serve as a brief introduction to the deep sea and hydrothermal vents. The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss.html Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall ocean.com/ ngm/0010/feature6 “Neptune’s Web: Get the Facts on Oceanography” www. The HMS Challenger expedition covered nearly 70.html U.navmetoccom.mil/ educate/neptune/neptune. Cindy Lee. Web Sites The Bridge — Sea Grant Ocean Sciences Education Center www.udel.time. For more information about the University of Delaware’s ocean-related courses and degree programs.00. University of Chicago Press.gov/rarebooks/ challenger/welcome. editor and associate director.expeditions. Contributing writer: Karen Romano-Young.htm NOAA Ocean Exlorer oceanexplorer.org/wgbh/nova/abyss Smithsonian Institution’s “Ocean Planet“ seawifs.edu/ocean_hall/ U.jbpub. Can you calculate what the atmospheric pressure is at the Earth’s deepest known point.html Van Dover.edu/extreme08. The following list of suggested classroom activities and resources may help expand your deep-sea learning experience. Presented online by NOAA in 2007.com/time/magazine/article/ 0.edu. The Ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents. dive in to www. Aug. Kious and Robert Tilling pubs. at the bottom of the Mariana Trench? Extra-Credit Essay Topics Why are hydrothermal vents important? How does Old Faithful geyser work? Compare it to a hydrothermal vent. senior art director.ocean.vims.usgs. 52 – 60. Additional information including photos.navy.si. 2007. production coordinator.nasa.S. New York: Amsco Publications. video clips.expeditions. J.nationalgeographic. research. Claire. what would it look like and what special capabilities would it have? Sketch it! Extra-Credit Essay Topics Jason is used in deep-sea research.udel.gsfc. and other news from the Extreme 2008 expedition can be found on our Web site: www. Naval Historical Center www. and educational materials.’ Macmillan & Co.edu/bridge Jones & Bartlett Publishers — Invitation to Oceanography by Paul Pinet www. celebrating200years. What special adaptations do these fish have for living in their demanding environment? Extra-Credit Essay Topics Compare and contrast photosynthesis and chemosynthesis.edu/. 1877.divediscover.pbs. Princeton University Press.whoi.expeditions.9171. please visit the University of Delaware College of Marine and Earth Studies and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program online at www. Thomas F.” Time.html Nouvian.edu/extreme08 11/08:Online . 14.mil/index. Marine Science. What other scientific tools are revolutionizing our study of the ocean? ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Funding for this educational guide was provided by the National Science Foundation to the University of Delaware as part of “Extreme 2008: A Deep-Sea Adventure” — the latest in the University of Delaware’s award-winning series of online expeditions to engage students and the public in cutting-edge research and the process of scientific discovery.udel. 1995.history. Lemonick. www.000 miles at sea and discovered many new marine organisms.navy. GEOLOGY Word Definition Here are some terms to define: continental shelf continental slope deep ocean basin hydrothermal vent mantle Mid-Ocean Ridge plate tectonics seafloor spreading subduction “Ring of Fire” Go Fish! Many deep-sea fish look monstrous! Your mission is to find pictures and descriptions of at least five different deep-sea fish. 1998. “The Last Frontier. Pamela Donnelly. journals. 2000.edu Books & Magazines Greene.html Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution “Dive and Discover” Expeditions www. To learn more about the Extreme 2008 program and expeditions to other locales around the world involving University of Delaware scientists. Thomson.udel. Tell us about the expedition and some of its key findings. Use it as a starting point to your own voyage of discovery! Extreme 2008 RESOURCES Many excellent resources were used to develop this guide and may help you in your search for more information. The Voyage of the ‘Challenger. public events.noaa. This guide was produced by the University of Delaware Office of Communications & Marketing: David Barczak.gov Nova Online — “Into the Abyss” www.noaa.
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