On February 17, 1977, scientists explored undersea hydrothermal vents for the first time. The vents were found just north of the Galapagos Islands, off the Pacific coast of South America.Hydrothermal vents have since been found throughout the ocean, including the mid-ocean ridge in the Atlantic. Vents can reach temperatures up to 672 Kelvin (750 degrees Fahrenheit). These vents support animal and bacterial life unlike any other on the planet. Animals such as 2-meter (6-foot) tubeworms and half-meter (1.6-foot) wide clams live in these harsh environments. These creatures use the heat and minerals expelled from the vents to thrive in the deep sea. Without the vents, few organisms could survive the ecosystem’s intense pressure and lack of sunlight.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry bacteria Plural Noun
(singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast ecosystem Noun
community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.
Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem environment Noun
conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.
to eject or force out.
hydrothermal vent Noun
opening on the seafloor that emits hot, mineral-rich solutions.
extreme or strong.
mid-ocean ridge Noun
underwater mountain range.
inorganic material that has a characteristic chemical composition and specific crystal structure.
large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.
Encyclopedic Entry: ocean organism Noun
living or once-living thing.
force pressed on an object by another object or condition, such as gravity.
degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.
Encyclopedic Entry: temperature thrive Verb
to develop and be successful.