Abyssal Vents

03 Oct 1994 12:00

To quote Bruce Sterling:

[H]ot volcanic crevices at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by previously unknown, chemosynthetic life forms. These unique and extremely weird biomes were not even discovered by the human race until 1979....

The unique creatures in abyssal vents exist in crushing pressure, in total darkness (except for the sinister glow of hot lava), and sure enough, just like teakettles, the vents sit there piping out boiling water through long stone spouts, in a cheerful, complex chemical stew. Life thrives there, devouring microbial sulfur, and bathing round-the-clock in clean geothermal energy.

Life-forms, nutrient cycles, evolutionary history, possible role in the origin of life, really neat and strange beasts: "clams full of hemoglobin, giant tubeworms that have no mouths or guts, dandelion jellyfish, `black smoker' volvanic vents, and big blind prawns."