Deep sea environments

Starting in Europe is the European Sea Floor Observatory Network. ESONET aims to establish a network of long-term, sea floor, multi-disciplinary observatories at key provinces around the European margin providing continuous monitoring of geophysical, biochemical, oceanographic and biological phenomena, beyond the continental shelf edge in the ocean margin areas down to 4000m depth areas.

Now across the Atlantic and over to the Pacific to the Neptune project, which aims to bring the Northern Pacific online. It will lay a 3,000km network of powered fibre optic cable on the seabed over the Juan de Fuca Teutonic plate, a 200,000 sq. km region. The network will feature 30 or more seafloor "laboratories" or nodes, spaced about 100 km apart. Land-based scientists will control and monitor sampling instruments, video cameras and ROV's to collect data from the seafloor.

Across the Pacific in Japan JAMSTEC has been conducting deep-sea research since 1993. A comprehensive ocean floor observation station was set up in September of that year in a clam bed, in water 1,174m deep off Hatsushima Island in Sagami Bay Okinawa. The surveys have revealed the existence of deep-sea biological communities, composed of organisms scarcely known in the past. To see this deep-sea site in real time.

If you are interested in a great time line of deep-sea exploration then check out the NOVA site.

Spindly tubeworms and 'black smoker' chimneys spewing hot, mineral-rich water may be the most familiar features of deep-sea vents. But there is much more to know about these geophysical formations, from their chemistry to the strange bacteria thriving beneath them. In operation since 1984, Vents is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project to study under water volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. The vents site offers data on volcanic activity records, bathymetric maps, vent geochemistry, or explore the first recorded and observed underwater eruption in progress. And don't miss the NeMO Net page, which follows a project to build a real-time Internet satellite link video cameras and temperature probes installed in an active volcano.

If that were not enough there are more tubeworms, giant clams, and other weird creatures dwelling near boiling hot deep-sea vents at this site, which follows an expedition off the west coast of Mexico. Besides video sent across the internet from the submersible Alvin, this site promises daily logs, and background about the vents intriguing chemistry and biology.

More vent life microbes can be found living in deep sea Riftia pachyptila tubeworms. These grapelike blobs, each about 2.5 micrometers across, form clusters of bacteria that ply their hosts with carbohydrates that they make using chemical energy from the hydrogen sulfide burbling from thermal vents. Although aimed at school children, Microbe Zoo site offers 70-odd micrographs, along with articles on topics such as magnetic microbes and giant bacteria in fish guts have also been known to liven up grad school courses.


Underwater world
Deep sea environments
Our favored sites on algal and animal groups
Satellite images
Catastrophic events
Marine conservation
Data and monitoring centers