Hydrothermal edifices within the Endeavour vent system. (a) The Bastille structure, rising > 15 m above the seafloor, is typical of structures in the Main Endeavour, High Rise, and Salty Dawg hydrothermal fields, exhibiting numerous active flanges and black smoker orifices at its summit. Mixing of hydrothermal fluids and seawater in the porous outer walls supports dense communities of limpets, palm worms, scale worms, and tubeworms. This image shows one of the small pinnacles that forms the summit of Bastille. The scale bar in all images is ~ 1 m. (b) The Cathedral complex in the southern portion of Main Endeavour Field is located on a talus slope along the western axial valley wall. Discovered in 2000, it is the only white smoker system on Endeavour (see movie). It is for the most part extinct now and was likely a short-lived system resulting from the 1999 injection event. Mixing of seawater and hydrothermal fluids within the talus debris likely resulted in deposition of metals beneath the seafloor and egress of some of the lowest-pH fluids measured at Endeavour. (c) Tall, steep-sided structures typify black smoker deposits in the Mothra hydrothermal field, where they rise up to 24 m above the surrounding seafloor. This photomosaic is looking north, showing the 305°C venting structure Finn (left) and 287°C edifice Roane (right). Both chimneys were truncated in 1998 as part of the University of Washington Edifice Rex program (Delaney et al., 2001; Kristall et al., 2006). Finn has regrown a ~ 7 m tall section since then, with the new growth highly colonized by vibrant tubeworm communities (see movie). A piece of Finn recovered in 1999 hosted the 121°C organisms cultured by Kashefi and Lovely (2003). The experiment in Roane consists of a microbial incubator inserted into the structure to examine the in situ conditions under which life thrives, survives, and expires within these extreme environments.
Media Type: Photograph
Investigator: Deborah Kelley