Revisiting the First Hydrothermal Vents Ever Discovered, E/V Nautilus Live Finds New Vents and New Life

by Owen James Burke

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“…living on the boundary of creation.”  – Dr. Robert Ballard. Anything living near these hydrothermal vents has only a matter of time before its swallowed by a fresh blanket of lava. Screenshot from E/V Nautilus Live’s video.

Dr. Robert Ballard and his team at E/V Nautilus Live have just returned to Tempis Fugit in the Galapagos Islands, the site of the first hydrothermal vent discovery nearly 40 years ago. Since the last visit in 2004, the underwater landscape has changed–there are new vents, and there’s even new fauna.

Discovered in 1977 (and subsequently in 1979, 2004 and 2011), the first hydrothermal vents have since been destroyed. In their place are new lava flows, and a couple of the newer vents were also lined with fields of a species of tube worm or polychaete known as the “flamboyant squid worm” (Teuthidodrilus), far from where they were first identified in 2007 in the Philippines.

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