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Hot water in a cold ocean – hydrothermal ecosystems in the Southern Ocean

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Hydrothermal ecosystems exist where geothermally heated water exits the Earth’s crust, often near volcanically active places. In 1977 the first marine hydrothermal black smoking vents were discovered in the Galápagos Rift hosting remarkable oases of giant tube worms, large clams and mussels as well as sulphide and mineral deposits. More than thirty years later, during the NERC ChEsSO consortium cruise JR224 in 2009, the first black smokers were found and filmed on the East Scotia Ridge segment E2 and investigated on following expeditions with ROV Isis on RRS James Cook. A new and so far unique ecosystem and biogeographic region was discovered. The talk today will summarise the present biological and geochemical results of the ChEsSO investigations, review the current knowledge on Southern Ocean hydrothermal active locations and touch on future challenges for these ecosystems, including conservation of biological diversity and deep sea mining.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey - Director's Choice series.

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