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ridge iconOceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents / fields

Oceanic ridges with hydrothermal vents / fields are one of the 5 deep-sea habitats listed by OSPAR as threatened and / or declining.

This vigorously venting black smoker, called Sully, emits jets of particle-laden fluids that create the

Throughout the deep oceans, there are vast mountain ranges extending for more than 75000 km. These huge structures form the largest mountain range on earth, the mid-ocean ridge system. Here, planetary scale processes of crust formation, plate separation and global heat loss occur. On a smaller scale, these ridges form the setting for one of the most unusual and least-understood habitats on earth, the deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Hydrothermal vents or black smokers are fissures in the ocean floor which eject hot, mineral-rich water. These cracks in the seafloor allow seawater to circulate and reach temperatures of up to 400 C while the intense pressure of several thousand metres of seawater prevents the water boiling. This super-heated water spews out of chimneys created of deposited minerals. The water is highly acidic, contains high concentrations of toxic compounds and minerals, and contains almost 2-3 times the amount of salt in the surrounding seawater.

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