Science: Life in the Depths

Exploring the bottom of the Pacific, some 2,700 meters (9,000 feet) below the waves, scientists aboard vessels from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were looking for underwater geysers or "hot spots." They were conducting their search along the Galapagos Rift, where lava from the earth's molten interior rises toward the surface between two great crustal plates. Such depths are thought to be relatively barren of nutrients—and thus of life. But photographs from the deep revealed small areas, each around a warm spring, that were teeming with clams, mussels, tube worms and scavenger crabs. The probable explanation for the profusion of these...

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