Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cayman vents are world's hottest

The world's deepest known volcanic vents are also the hottest, a UK-led expedition has indicated.

The seafloor vents are located 5km below the surface of the Caribbean, in the Cayman Trough.

The researchers say the structures are shooting jets of mineral-rich water more than a kilometre into the ocean above.

The vents' features suggest the water is warmer than 450C - hot enough to melt lead.

Nevertheless, the springs are teeming with new species including a type of pale shrimp with a light sensing organ on its back.

Details of the research have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from the UK's National Oceanography Centre in Southampton first investigated the vents in April 2010.

The vents are known as "Black Smokers" on account of the smoky-looking hot liquids that gush out of them.

One of the vents, which the team named the Beebe Vent Field, was almost a kilometre deeper than anything previously found. Read More