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New Underwater Worlds

Upside-down waterfalls, underwater lakes and calcite caverns awaited the science team as they sought to reveal the hidden secret of one of the deepest hydrothermal vent systems on the planet.

People like to say that there is nothing new under the sun, but what about where the sun does not reach? In the deep sea, where no light penetrates, there are all kinds of dynamic environments, new vents forming, and organisms yet to be discovered. “The deep ocean is still one of the least explored frontiers in the solar system,” said Dr. Robert Zierenberg, professor at University of California Davis. “Maps of our planet are not as detailed as those of Mercury, Venus, Mars or the moon, because it is hard to map underwater. This is the frontier.” Until recently, the deep sea was perceived to be a barren desert of abyssal hills and rolling sediments. This thought held true until life was discovered in the 1970s. As technologies have developed, ocean scientists have gained more access to this unknown, increasing our capabilities to map and explore.

Continue reading article in the Deep Sea issue [January/February 2019] of ECO magazine by following this link.

Words by Carlie Wiener and Kate Herries, Schmidt Ocean Institute

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