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Dispatch from the Deep: Hydrothermal Vent Formation
This article discusses how hydrothermal vents are formed and why scientists monitor minute temperature changes around them. It details the writer's personal account of preparing temperature probes to be deployed for a year-long study, an explanation of deep sea vents and their hydrothermal nature, and why they seem to spew black smoke. The thermometers prepared by the writer help monitor the currents that pull the hot chimney water into the cold ocean to measure how fast it is cooled off and mixed. This information is used in the study of life at the vents and also to monitor changes in the effluent and to examine, over time, the chemistry of the mineral-rich waters that emerge from these vents.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • Text:
    • Ref. material
  • Ocean Sciences:
    • Chemical oceanography
    • Physical oceanography
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 2002 American Museum of Natural History. All rights reserved. Deep Sea Vents was developed and produced by the Education Department of the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the REVEL program of the University of Washington. Deep sea vents image courtesy of Dr. Michael Perfit, University of Florida, and NOAA VENTS program. Deep Sea Vents materials developed with the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. All text, images, and software code on this website are copyright property of the American Museum of Natural History and its programmers unless otherwise noted. They may be used for the personal education of website visitors. They may not be placed in the public domain. Any commercial reproduction, redistribution, publication, or other use by electronic means or otherwise is prohibited unless pursuant to a written license signed by the Museum.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-005-752
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Understanding about scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Diversity and adaptations of organisms
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Structure of the earth system
      • G - History and nature of science:
        • Science as a human endeavor
    • 9-12:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Understandings about scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
      • D - Earth and space science:
        • Energy in the earth system
        • Geochemical cycles
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: American Museum of Natural History