Hydrothermal vent fields and chemosynthetic biota on the world's deepest seafloor spreading centre

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Connelly, Douglas P.
Copley, Jonathan T.
Murton, Bramley J.
Stansfield, Kate
Tyler, Paul A.
German, Christopher R.
Van Dover, Cindy L.
Amon, Diva
Furlong, Maaten
Grindlay, Nancy
Hayman, Nicholas W.
Huhnerbach, Veit
Judge, Maria
Le Bas, Tim
McPhail, Stephen
Meier, Alexandra
Nakamura, Ko-ichi
Nye, Verity
Pebody, Miles
Pedersen, Rolf B.
Plouviez, Sophie
Sands, Carla M.
Searle, Roger C.
Stevenson, Peter
Taws, Sarah
Wilcox, Sally
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The Mid-Cayman spreading centre is an ultraslow-spreading ridge in the Caribbean Sea. Its extreme depth and geographic isolation from other mid-ocean ridges offer insights into the effects of pressure on hydrothermal venting, and the biogeography of vent fauna. Here we report the discovery of two hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre. The Von Damm Vent Field is located on the upper slopes of an oceanic core complex at a depth of 2,300 m. High-temperature venting in this off-axis setting suggests that the global incidence of vent fields may be underestimated. At a depth of 4,960 m on the Mid-Cayman spreading centre axis, the Beebe Vent Field emits copper-enriched fluids and a buoyant plume that rises 1,100 m, consistent with > 400 °C venting from the world’s deepest known hydrothermal system. At both sites, a new morphospecies of alvinocaridid shrimp dominates faunal assemblages, which exhibit similarities to those of Mid-Atlantic vents.
© Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2012. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Nature Communications 3 (2012): 620, doi:10.1038/ncomms1636.
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Nature Communications 3 (2012): 620
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