ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hydrothermal Vent Basics

Updated on October 24, 2015

Environmental conditions necessary for life to survive and propagate are traditionally thought to be very rare in the Universe. Even on Earth, there are areas too hostile to support carbon-based life. The depths of the open ocean were once thought to be dark, barren wastelands, incapable of hosting any type of biological community. In 1977, at a depth of approximately 2500 meters scientists discovered a complex ecosystem manifesting itself at a hydrothermal vent site along the Galapagos Spreading Center. Multitudes of organisms were found surviving and flourishing in areas once thought incapable of supporting life (Bachraty et el 2009). By adapting their metabolic pathways, physiology and ecology to accommodate for the harsh conditions, many organisms have evolved metabolic mechanisms, symbiotic relationships or other methods of efficiently utilizing the available resources (Van Dover et el 2002, Glowka 2003).

Only approximately 100 active hydrothermal vent sites have been identified, but it is thought that there could be thousands that remain unknown (Glowka 2003). The potential knowledge the unmapped regions of the ocean may contain is incalculable. Eight hundred new species have been identified since the discovery of hydrothermal vents, approximately 80 percent of which are endemic to this unique habitat. Many previously unknown bacteria and single-celled organisms have been found at vent sites, and the possible pharmacological and environmental utility humans could gain from these organisms has yet to be studied.

Chemosynthetic environments also serve as possible pockets of refuge from global mass extinction events. Some endemic vent species demonstrate ancestral traits, suggesting that they could be of great importance in understanding taxonomic relationships throughout the history of evolution. (Bachraty et el 2009, Van Dover et el 2002, Thiel & Koslow 2001). Hydrothermal vent habitats are the first complex ecosystems discovered to date that are based primarily on microbial chemoautotrophic production, and their discovery is often regarded as one of the most important advances in biological science in the latter half of the twentieth century (Glowka 2003).

Thanks for Reading! Literature Consulted:

Bachraty, C., P. Legendre and D. Desbruyeres. “Biogeographic Relationships Among Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Fauna at Global Scale.” Deep Sea Research . 56 (2009): 1371-1378.

Glowka, L. “Putting Marine Scientific Research on a Sustainable Footing at Hydrothermal Vents.” Marine Policy . 27.4 (2003): 303-312.

Thiel, H. and A. Koslow, eds. Managing Risks to Biodiversity and the Environment on the High Sea, Including Tools Such as Marine Protected Areas- Scientific Requirements and Legal Aspects . 27 Feb 2001, Isle of Vilm, Germany. German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, 2001. Print.

Van Dover, C., C. German, K. Speer, L. Parson, and R. Vrijenhoek. “Evolution and Biogeography of Deep-Sea Methane Vent and Seep Invertebrates.” Science . 295 (2002): 1253-1257.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)