Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed

From the Max Planck Society

New deep-sea hot springs discovered in the Atlantic

Scientists from the MARUM Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen on board the German research vessel Meteor have discovered a new hydrothermal vent 500 kilometres south-west of the Azores. The vent with chimneys as high as one meter and fluids with temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius was found at one thousand metres water depth in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of the new deep-sea vent is remarkable because the area in which it was found has been intensively studied during previous research cruises. The MARUM and Max Planck researchers describe their discovery in their video blog.

Chimney-like structures spew hot fluids of up to 300 degrees Celsius that contain large amounts of methane and hydrogen sulfide.

Image: MARUM

The Bremen scientists were able to find the hydrothermal vent by using the new, latest-generation multibeam echosounder on board the research vessel Meteor that allows the imaging of the water column above the ocean floor with previously unattained precision. The scientists saw a plume of gas bubbles in the water column at a site about 5 kilometers away from the known large vent field Menez Gwen that they were working on. A dive with the remote-controlled submarine MARUM-QUEST revealed the new hydrothermal site with smokers and animals typically found at vents on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Since the discovery of the new vent, the scientists have been intensively searching the water column with the multibeam echosounder. To their astonishment, they have already found at least five other sites with gas plumes. Some even lie outside the volcanically active spreading zone in areas where hydrothermal activity was previously not assumed to occur.

“Our results indicate that many more of these small active sites exist along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge than previously assumed,” said Dr. Nicole Dubilier, the chief scientist of the expedition. “This could change our understanding of the contribution of hydrothermal activity to the thermal budget of the oceans. Our discovery is also exciting because it could provide the answer to a long standing mystery: We do not know how animals travel between the large hydrothermal vents, which are often separated by hundreds to thousands of kilometres from each other. They may be using these smaller sites as stepping stones for their dispersal.”

Research on deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic is the objective of the 30 marine scientists from Hamburg, Bremen, Kiel, Portugal, and France who have been on board the German research vessel Meteor since September 6th. The expedition to the submarine volcano Menez Gwen near the Azores is financed by MARUM, the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences in Bremen. “One of the questions that the team would like to answer is why the hydrothermal sources in this area emit so much methane – a very potent greenhouse gas,” says chief scientist Nicole Dubilier, who is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life Vents and Seeps project ChEss (Chemosynthetic Ecosystem Science). “Another important focus of the research is the deep-sea mussels that live at the hydrothermal vents and host symbiotic bacteria in their gills. The mussels obtain their nutrition from these bacteria.”

The hydrothermal vent crab Segonzacia on a mound that is covered with white bacteria and mineral precipitates.

Image: MARUM

Video blog: “News from the main deck”

An expedition on a research vessel is not only marked by great moments, like this discovery; everyday life on the Meteor is also filled with other exciting activities and events. Work on a research vessel goes on round the clock throughout the entire expedition. In his video podcast “Neues vom Peildeck / News from the observation deck”, available through the Hamburg-based newspaper Abendblatt, and in German and English on YouTube (see link below), Dennis Fink, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, reports on the activities of the ship’s remote-operated vehicle (ROV) MARUM-QUEST, the various instruments used by the scientists and life on board the ship. In the two-minute video blogs, Fink and his colleagues show fascinating images direct from the sea floor.

###

Contact:

Dr. Manfred Schlösser, Public Relations

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen

Tel.: +49 421 2028704

E-mail: mschloes@mpi-bremen.de

Albert Gerdes, Public Relations

MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Research University of Bremen, Bremen

Tel.: +49 421 218-65540

E-mail: agerdes@marum.de

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92 thoughts on “Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed

  1. Title “Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed”.
    The word “assumed” says it all for me. File in the bin IMO.

  2. In 1999 there was a volcanic explosion on the Gakkel Ridge under the Arctic Ice, the traces of which I maintain can be seen. Clouds covered the area in question, which I believe were the vapors from a bit of open sea or from warmed and thinned ice. A meteorologist should be able to tell whether the clouds were from that source, or from the normal processes of cloud formation in the Arctic. The pictures are hard to get.
    =====================================

  3. Interesting research and reports,
    Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIM) in Townsville, Queensland, Australia also has documented similar work:-
    Discovery of active hydrothermal venting in Lake Taupo, New Zealand (2002) Journal of Vulcanology and Geothermal Research V115 Issue 3-4 June 30 p257-75
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03770273
    http://www3.aims.gov.au/docs/publications/waypoint/003/pdf/waypoint-200612.pdf
    provies some overview of the oceanic research conducted.
    http://www.aims.gov.au/index.html

  4. I propose an eco tax on all hydro thermal vents. They are just a bunch of irresponsible gas-emitting freeloaders.

  5. Heh, wrong thread for 6:06 comment, but let’s not speak of the Devil, who knows in which thread He’ll pop up.
    ============

  6. what … are they saying that they lack knowledge about the activities and mechanisms of 7/8 of the earths surface which happens to be inhospitable to human life ? Didn’t the models tell them these vents would be there ?

  7. Don’t you just love that phrase, “this is could CHANGE our understanding etc”
    If only these scientists were climatologists.

  8. The heat flow from the ocean floor to the ocean water has not changed. This vent was there all along. The reason ocean temperatures have risen is because something else has changed.

  9. This is an interesting piece from a strictly scientific point of view. This deep ocean stuff always gets my attention.
    I don’t worry about the methane very much because I am not impressed with the theory behind the greenhouse effect. As for the warming, it is deep in very cold water. Good for the animals there, but not much of an impact outside of that.
    Still a good article.
    John Kehr

  10. It’s a nice puff piece, but does anybody have some real numbers?
    I suspect that in the overall scheme of things that these hydrothermal vents are an insignificant part of the global energy budget.

  11. Poor Trenberth.
    He’s been looking for his missing heat in the ocean, and now he has to look for even more to offset the thermal vents he didn’t know about.
    Its worse than he thought.

  12. I ponder and I wonder, was it actually the NOAA 16 Satellite which discoverd this vent?
    Peter Walsh

  13. Part of the Plate Tectonic thing. They have been around for as long as plate tectonics. ie. for as long as the planet has been around. Yes they warm the surrounding water but not a lot.

  14. “One of the questions that the team would like to answer is why the hydrothermal sources in this area emit so much methane – a very potent greenhouse gas”
    The infrared-absorptive properties of methane aren’t relevant to the effect of the vents on marine life or the [deep] ocean’s thermal budget, so why the gratuitous reference to greenhouse here? Trying to make the research more interesting to possible funding sources, perhaps. Or added by the reporter.

  15. “Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed”.
    Now this would put quite a crimp in the climate models wouldn’t it.

  16. “One of the questions that the team would like to answer is why the hydrothermal sources in this area emit so much methane – a very potent greenhouse gas,”
    Wow! I wonder: Will the U.S. EPA commence an attempt to regulate those gas emissions, or will they take planet Earth to court and sue it for non-compliance?
    Imagine that: The Earth farts more than the ruminants!

  17. Apparently this will change the oceans’ energy budget for an unknown period and with that the world energy budget. Kevin Trenberth has been trying to get his head around thr world energy budget for some time. Earlier this year (Science 328:317 16 April 2010) he reported a developing huge discrepancy between measured radiative energy loss and measured ocean heat content change. His energy gap starts in 2004 and widens to 75 percent of the measured radiation budget in five years. His graph shows that a large part of the loss is from ocean heat content change. I was quite sure some definite physical process had to start in 2004 to cause this but did not quite understand what it could be. But natura non facit saltum so we must look for a human cause. This is fitting because he thinks that humans cause climate change. In his case, the clue to it is in his paper where we read: “Since 2004, ~3000 Argo floats have provided regular temperature soundings of the upper 2000 m of the ocean, giving new confidence in the ocean heat content assessment…” And not coincidentally, that is when the discrepancy started. My advice to him is to learn how new equipment behaves before you rush into print with half-ass conclusions.

  18. Geo-engineers are already working with BP Oil on ways to plug those dangerous greenhouse gas emitting vents.

  19. I’ve repeatedly speculated, on WUWT and other science blog sites, that Hydrothermal vents could have a much greater impact on the Earth’s thermal budget than the relatively small estimates hitherto attributed. No one bothered to reply! This lack of interest seems strange, considering that our understanding of the ocean depths is even more limited than that of the Earth’s climate or weather (or the sufaces of either the Moon or Mars!!) This is also likely to be highly variable and unpredictable factor over time. I’m pleased that so worthy a scientific body as the Max Planck Institute is at last on the case.

  20. Can someone explain this to me….
    If these vents are located in many spots on the ocean floor, and have been spewing super hot liquid for billions of years – how come the oceans have not heated up to at least “hot”. Billions of years of this should have resulted in hot oceans ?
    Unless that is of course – geothermal energy is the source of most of our climate energey and is just radiating out. That would mean solar and GH is negligable.
    I dont under stand how you can have billions of years of super hot water coming out and the oceans not becoming hot ?

  21. We know little about the ocean bed which covers 70% of the earth’s surface. My suspicion is that geothermal energy has been grossly underestimated in the Earth energy models. Hydrothermal vents may contribute more to the thermal budget of the oceans than previously assumed, but I think these spectacular features are only the tip of the energy iceberg.
    I speculate that the main energy exchange between ocean and crust is from a large number of deep fissures (both macro and micro). The multitude of fissures allow cold water to seep deep into the Earth’s crust and then carry the energy up to the bottom of the ocean by convection.
    More research needs to be done to understand how much of an effect hydrothermal energy could have on our climate.

  22. http://mattson.creighton.edu/H2S/H2S_Info.html
    H. Gas Solubility of H2S – Hydrogen sulfide dissolves in water to make a solution that is weakly acidic. At 0 oC 437 mL H2S(g) will dissolve in 100 mL H2O, producing a solution that is about 0.2 M. However, the solution process is fairly slow. The solution equilibrium is = H2S(g) H2S(aq)
    Would like to know which has the greater effect of ocean acidification, the tons of this stuff or CO2 absorbed at the surface?

  23. So does that mean we need to adjust the temps downwards to allow for the venting heat island effect?

  24. This is part of the larger issue as to what degree does undersea volcanic activity directly heat the oceans. Any oceanography textbook will show the map of deep ocean temperatures with the mid-ocean ridges (spreading zones) clearly visible as a 1-2 degree Celsius increase of the deep ocean temperature. But the standard estimate is uncertain for two main reasons – (i) the deep oceans have not been extensively spatially temperature-mapped and (ii) we do not have long time series of accurate deep ocean temperatures (an important deficient when carbon isotope data tells us that deep ocean water can have turn-over times of up to a few thousand years).

  25. Should not the U.S. Navy have a good idea how many underwater volcanoes and vents there could be. I am sure with decades of listening for submarines with submarines and listening devices they must have an extensive record. I guess there could be a good possibilty they will not release this information at risk of giving away their technology. I also suppose being in the proximity of these noise makers, could be good hiding places so would not want to give up the locations, maybe?

  26. The discovery of the new deep-sea vent is remarkable . . .
    If research such as this and the reports that follow could be stripped of the statements like the one above, and if everyone would stop using any of the various phrases “more than previously xxxx” and report the few facts they have learned, I would find it easier to read these things.
    Regarding the “remarkable” statement: The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a known “spreading center” and under-sea hydrothermal vents were first discovered along the East Pacific Rise in 1977 and later in the Atlantic. They make this sound as though they were surprised to find anything but that is true only in the sense that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is quite long. Just because you can’t find a cab in NYC in a rain storm doesn’t mean the City has no cabs.
    And the comments about the “thermal budget” are likewise silly. One should assume only that there are some of these places not yet found, that no one knows how many are to be found, and that the contribution to the thermal budget from them or the hot rocks under non-venting parts is unknown. Only when they have done a complete inventory of the ocean floor, taken measurements, made a cumulative estimate – can they then get around to “more or less” reports. Would it not make for better understanding to say that with P% (& MM miles) of the ridge investigated only p’(%) (& mm’ miles) is leaking so much heat and has ‘smokers’?
    I do applaud the effort and the reporting of it. Thanks.

  27. Geologists are not surprised; marine biologists are. This has been the problem with climate science, too. When you find something weird or interesting in the lithosphere, hydrosphere or yes, the atmosphere or other planets, too, first speak to a geologist before your build a new science out of it.
    The formation of a large class of basemetal and precious metal deposits have been formed from “smokers” since the Archean (3.8 to 2.5 mya). A present day significant one is in the Red Sea – another seafloor spreading locality, and in the Pacific with its arcuate fractures traced by volcanic islands. Why it would be a surprise to anyone that the largest fracture zone in the earth, where new crust is being formed, should have many and closely spaced smoking vents along it and laterally over the considerable width (half the ocean width) is the real surprise.
    Popular article at:
    http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=Red%20Sea%20smoker%20zinc&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA
    “Because so much metal is spewed out, hydrothermal vents have been responsible for many of the world’s richest ore deposits, like the copper ores mined on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, many economic geologists have suggested that active vents — not just the sites of former ones — be mined for their massive metallic deposits, although their remote locations might make that difficult. ”
    They seem so excited I hate to scoop the “Steering Committee of the Census of Marine Life Vents and Seeps project ChEss (Chemosynthetic Ecosystem Science)”, but when they finally do their chemical analyses, they will discover, to their surprise that the smokers, the sea in the vicinity and the ocean floor sediments are loaded with copper, zinc, gold, and a couple of dozen other metals – renewable resources that we should advise the “limits-to-growth” bunch about.

  28. Hmm, 1000 meters. Isn’t that the depth of wellhead for the BP well? I wonder if the output of the black smoker could be captured and methane, heavy metals, etc be
    recovered.

  29. Ric Werme says:
    October 10, 2010 at 9:25 am
    Ric, you are a visionary. I believe these “renewables” will be captured in future and you have just pointed to the type of technology that is likely to work – pump the black metallic smoke and methane to a surface tanker – filter, capture gas in a cupola above the water level in the tank and flow out the “cleaned” seawater back into the sea.

  30. Looking at the video of the first vent, it seems to me that stuff is spewing out from it at the same rate as the oil was coming out of the Deep Horizon well. And that’s just one vent.
    My bet is that these vents are all around the boundaries of tectonic plates. Taken together, these would have a significant effect on the heat budget of the planet, probably more than all the volcanoes that have erupted.
    I’m sure I saw another video of one of these and there were methane clathrate mounds all around it. I wonder if they have cycles where there is more and less stuff coming out of them.
    Heh, just when you think you know something, along comes Nature and slaps you in the back of the head.

  31. I have been fascinated by these “black smokers” and other oceanic thermal sources, for a very long time now. Comes with the professional territory, I guess. I think the most telling word in this press release is “assumed”. Way, way to much assuming and way, way to little empirical data. Come to think of it, that is the crux of the whole AGW thing, isn’t it. I also wonder how this revised assumption will play out in looking for the famous, “missing heat”?

  32. I think that the geothermal heat from volcanic activity could have been larger in the past than it is today, perhaps we need a flood basalt eruption today to get us out of this cycle of ice ages we are going through,melt the ice in antarctica and get the oceans boiling ,if this is what they do when they erupt.

  33. Mike,
    1) ocean heat has been dropping
    2) you are right that whatever heating has been added by these vents, underwater volcanoes, and lesser geothermal activity, it has been there all along and NOT represented in the Climate models. To put this forcing into the models means other forcings have to be REDUCED, like, let me see, maybe CO2!!!!
    3) yes the heat flow from the ocean HAS CHANGED. We simply have not quantifed when and by how much as we were not measuring it! This MAY explain SOME of the variability of the ocean and atmospheric heat content that we do not understand.
    Here is an article that clearly shows the magnitude of the heating in the eastern pacific. There is absolutely no reason to believe this type of system is unique to this area:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173830.htm
    This is the base board heater of the eastern pacific. If you read the research you find that they instrumented a large area of these vents and actually recorded earthquakes that closed many of them around 2007. This vent system opens and closes due to volcanism and other geologic activity changing the amount of heat being literally pumped into the Pacific.
    Another proof that Climate Models simply do NOT include all the necessary items to function reasonably.

  34. The mini-revolution predicted by 2010 I guess didn’t happen but maybe it’s just starting late.
    Anyhow, there’s an estimate of the energy they produce in watts. The earth’s surface is approximately 500,000,000 sq km. So the typical hydrothermal vent of 500 megawatts contributes about 1 microwatt per square meter to the energy budget. The megaplume would be 200 microwatts.
    I suppose enough of them could make a difference. Five thousand megaplumes or one million typical plumes would add one watt to the energy budget – less than 1% but bordering on significant.
    There’s a problem however. Geothermal heat (heat of formation and radioactive decay) is about 80 milliwatts per square meter. The heat from these plumes and vents if they added up to 1 watt/m2 would mean the interior of the earth is cooling ten times faster than presumed. If that was the case it seems the earth would not have a molten core at this late date.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1212_051212_megaplume.html

    Hydrothermal “Megaplume” Found in Indian Ocean
    Brian Handwerk
    for National Geographic News
    December 12, 2005
    “A normal hydrothermal vent might produce something like 500 megawatts, while this is producing 100,000 megawatts. It’s like an atom bomb down there.”
    Scientists are only beginning to identify the tectonic conditions that may indicate where the fields can be found, but the possible locations are increasing.
    “I’d be surprised if in the next five years we didn’t experience a mini-revolution in terms of finding these [fields] in places where they are not supposed to exist,” said geophysicist Robert Reves-Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

  35. Gary Pearse says:
    October 10, 2010 at 9:48 am
    Ric Werme says:
    October 10, 2010 at 9:25 am
    Ric, you are a visionary. I believe these “renewables” will be captured in future and you have just pointed to the type of technology that is likely to work – pump the black metallic smoke and methane to a surface tanker – filter, capture gas in a cupola above the water level in the tank and flow out the “cleaned” seawater back into the sea.
    ———-
    Are you guys crazy? If you take a stream of the effluent and do anything with it then return it to the source, then you are the source of the pollution? Don’t you know anything about how the government enivronmental agencies work?
    I’d wager a fair amount of mercury being emitted by these types of sources. I had a prof who had a hunch that humans weren’t responsible for the level of mercury in sea water. Back in the late sixties… He had sent off for samples of preserved sea life from various museums (ostensibly, to confirm that concentrations were going up). He found high levels in the few samples he was given, as high as modern levels. But, when people found out what his thesis really was, they stopped providing him with samples.

  36. Dave Springer says:
    October 10, 2010 at 10:43 am
    Does “radioactive decay” include the energy of nuclear fission that must have been going on in the core for billions of years, before the U-235 abundance got to as low as it is now and natural fission all but stopped?

  37. Here are a few links to issues relevant to the topic:
    In this one look at “heat flow” under the main heading of geothermal gradient:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_gradient
    This one shows the opening of the Atlantic beginning about 200 my ago:
    http://museum.gov.ns.ca/fossils/geol/globe.htm
    This one adds to the picture of the previous animation:
    http://www.palaeos.com/Mesozoic/Triassic/LateTrias.html#Geography
    This one shows what the ridge looks like on land (Iceland) and suggest how difficult it is to find anything in the ocean below several thousand feet of water.
    http://epod.usra.edu/blog/2010/08/mid-atlantic-ridge-in-iceland.html

  38. Consider that most of the heat from surface (land) volcanism radiates into space. Most of the heat from submarine volcanism does not, at least not directly. There is no way for the IR to radiate directly from the source of the heat to space as there would be for a volcano in Iceland at night in winter.
    Consider that there is likely much more than twice the volcanic activity under the oceans as there is on land as that is where most of the spreading centers are. When was the last time a satellite reported a “hot spot” in the middle of the open ocean someplace where there was no land? I suspect pretty much never.
    All of that heat is absorbed into the water. I have no idea how much of an impact it might have on ocean temperatures but I have trouble believing it is insignificant when looked at on the scale of all submarine volcanism in the world at any given moment.

  39. Such vents can exert a surprising thermal transfer into the surrounding water. See:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1212_051212_megaplume.html
    They are not static, they can affect climate, and we have no maps for them, and minimal information on the subject. We have no real means of detection other than chance discovery of the surface temperature changes and local volcanic gas sampling.
    To suggest that they are static is to ignore the nature of hydrothermal fields, and volcanism itself.

  40. Mike says:
    October 10, 2010 at 6:57 am
    The heat flow from the ocean floor to the ocean water has not changed. This vent was there all along. The reason ocean temperatures have risen is because something else has changed.
    THE ADJUSTMENTS ????

  41. kuhnkat says:
    October 10, 2010 at 10:26 am
    >Mike,
    > 1) ocean heat has been dropping
    No. Sea surface temps are warming. Less is known about deep ocean temps but there is evidence of deep ocean warming too. See: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66J00K.htm
    >2) you are right that whatever heating has been added by these vents, underwater volcanoes,
    >and lesser geothermal activity, it has been there all along and NOT represented in the Climate
    >models. To put this forcing into the models means other forcings have to be REDUCED, like,
    >let me see, maybe CO2!!!!
    Heat is produced in the interior of the Earth radioactive decay and a smaller amount if left over from the formation of the Earth. The heat flows up and radiates into space. There is no evidence of it changing in the last 100 hundred years thus this heat flow is in equilibrium and not likely contributing to climate or ocean change.
    >3) yes the heat flow from the ocean HAS CHANGED. We simply have not quantifed when and
    >by how much as we were not measuring it! This MAY explain SOME of the variability of the
    >ocean and atmospheric heat content that we do not understand.
    >Here is an article that clearly shows the magnitude of the heating in the eastern pacific. There is
    >absolutely no reason to believe this type of system is unique to this area:
    >http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080109173830.htm
    The article gives no quantitative estimate of the heat flow. To you as a lay person it just seems like it must a lot. But the oceans are quite large.
    >This is the base board heater of the eastern pacific. If you read the research you find that they
    >instrumented a large area of these vents and actually recorded earthquakes that closed many of
    >them around 2007. This vent system opens and closes due to volcanism and other geologic
    >activity changing the amount of heat being literally pumped into the Pacific.
    But this net heat flow is not changing.
    >Another proof that Climate Models simply do NOT include all the necessary items to function
    >reasonably.
    The proof of what climate models can or cannot do comes from comparing model results to reality. They predicted this warming though not in detail and regional effects are still not modeled well. See, for example, The Discovery of Global Warming – a history of the scientific discover of human caused climate change by Spencer Weart.

  42. @Dave Springer
    “There’s a problem however. Geothermal heat (heat of formation and radioactive decay) is about 80 milliwatts per square meter. The heat from these plumes and vents if they added up to 1 watt/m2 would mean the interior of the earth is cooling ten times faster than presumed. If that was the case it seems the earth would not have a molten core at this late date.”
    You’re assuming that the earth’s core started out massively hot and has simply been cooling since then, with no added energy.
    Gravity and tidal forces serve to wrench the core, causing friction, heating things up. In the aggregate, no doubt it’s cooler now than before, but it’s cooling down a lot slower than merely measuring the heat loss would suggest.
    Haven’t really read this site, but it comes up in a google search about tidal heating. When you can have icy moons far away from the sun with volcanic activity, the heat is coming from non-solar means.
    http://hotcoreearth.com/?p=47
    “It is noteworthy to realize that Triton itself has the coldest surface temperature of any moon in the Solar System. This is very significant. Because it is so far away Triton receives very little sunlight and so is an icy dead world. Or is it? It has been discovered recently that Triton is actually volcanic! In other words below its surface there is excessive heat! A very strange discovery. Here is a relatively small moon in the distant reaches of the solar system emitting heat from its core just like our own Earth! The question is why?”

  43. Gravity and tidal forces serve to wrench the core, causing friction, heating things up.

    It is my understanding that much of the heat comes from radioactive decay.

  44. Mike says:
    October 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    “Heat is produced in the interior of the Earth radioactive decay and a smaller amount if left over from the formation of the Earth. The heat flows up and radiates into space. There is no evidence of it changing in the last 100 hundred years thus this heat flow is in equilibrium and not likely contributing to climate or ocean change. ”
    And what evidence exists that it has not changed in the last 100 years that leads you to conclude that the Earth interior energy budget is “in equilibrium” with respect to the subject of “climate change”?

  45. “The vent with chimneys as high as one meter and fluids with temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius was found at one thousand metres water depth in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”
    Still waiting for:
    “The vent with chimneys as high as one meter and fluids with temperatures up to 400 degrees Celsius was found at thirty metres water depth in the north-west of the Lake Michigan.”

  46. What I find to be of most interest is the fact that living organisms seem to be quite at home next to the newly-discovered smoker.
    That means that this phenomenon is not “new”, it must have existed for some considerable time. How many more of these small smokers are out there? How long to they survive? How do life-forms migrate from one to another?
    The very first thing that the discovery of the new smoker tells us is just how little we really know about our planet.
    Fascinating!

  47. A very strange discovery. Here is a relatively small moon in the distant reaches of the solar system emitting heat from its core just like our own Earth! The question is why?”
    In order to know why one must abandon the model of “Flintstones´Universe”, where we were taught to figure out a dead universe filled with circling rounded stones only driven by gravity, winds, and lastly, by phantoms from the beyond the “twilight zone”, like “black holes”, “dark matter”, and all that stuff just invented for scaring kids, and keeping common hard working people in the belief they live in a cosmos only governed by chaos, where there is no order whatsoever.
    A different version at:
    http://www.holoscience.com/

  48. “If these vents are located in many spots on the ocean floor, and have been spewing super hot liquid for billions of years – how come the oceans have not heated up to at least “hot”. Billions of years of this should have resulted in hot oceans ?
    Unless that is of course – geothermal energy is the source of most of our climate energey and is just radiating out. That would mean solar and GH is negligable.
    I dont under stand how you can have billions of years of super hot water coming out and the oceans not becoming hot ?”
    Basically because our assumptions of earth history, that of geological uniformitarianism, might be wrong.
    I have not read all the posts here but this volcanic vent is in oceanic crust, moving away from the mid-atlantic ridge, is underlain by recent ocean floor basalts, but is emitting methane etc.
    As methane is generally thought to be biotic in origin, then pray tell me where the accumulation of biomass is to produce this methane from oceanic crust newly created?
    Mid oceanic ridges are where mantle derived material appear at the earth’s surface, and well away from subduction zones. So where is the reported methane coming from?
    Not from subducted sediments containing biomass.

  49. The climatologist alarmist solution is plug ’em holes NOW before all the sea ice melts and we all die horribly! :p

  50. Louis Hissink says:
    “As methane is generally thought to be biotic in origin, then pray tell me where the accumulation of biomass is to produce this methane from oceanic crust newly created?”
    Good question.
    Titan’s methane sea.

  51. My geology Professor at University and one of his PhD students discovered Carboniferous age (300 MY or so) fossilised black smokers in a lead/zinc mine in Ireland. There were fossilised organisms perserved within them. He has a theory that life evolved in these black smokers and he is now researching the origin of life in NASA. He’s a great bloke – a Bob Dylan fan too. (Bob on plate tectonics: “the carpet too is moving under you”.)
    There are an unknown number of these black smokers associated with ocean ridges/spreading centres and they have been continually pumping out huge volumes of superheated water into the deep oceans for probably billions of years. I reckon they must have some effect on ocean temperatures/circulation patterns.

  52. Jimmy Haigh says:
    October 10, 2010 at 4:31 pm
    “There are an unknown number of these black smokers associated with ocean ridges/spreading centres and they have been continually pumping out huge volumes of superheated water into the deep oceans for probably billions of years.”
    I suspect that they have not been continually pumping, but vary in total output.
    There may be tens or hundreds of thousands of sources releasing heat to the ocean, perhaps in locations that affect ocean chemistry and/or circulation patterns. But we simply do not have the technology in place to measure what effect this might have on current climate. The real question for now is whether climatologists can disregard the known unknowns and claim the science is settled.

  53. This last paragraph in the American Thinker article linked below seems relevant. A “georeactor” at the centre of Earth?
    Thus, as researchers dig deeper into sources of climate change, we must seriously consider the concept of a molten Earth core fed by nuclear waste from a georeactor at its center emitting heat as well as the elements to form hydrocarbons creating petroleum. With great heat (including an abundance of CO2) escaping the crust by mechanisms such as hydrothermal vents in the ocean floor triggering major events such as El Nino ocean warming, we may be getting closer to climate change truth than the mythology of “man-made climate disruption.”

    Sustainable Oil Production?

  54. I’ve linked to this paper quite a number of times here with, given the tenor of many of the comments in this thread, not a great deal of influence.
    http://www.ocean-sci.net/5/203/2009/os-5-203-2009.pdf
    Geothermal heating, diapycnal mixing and the abyssal circulation
    J. Emile-Geay1 and G. Madec2,*
    It provides what, at least I find to be, compelling evidence that the widely accepted value for the contribution of geothermal heating to the oceanic heat budget (88mW/m2) is a large underestimation. Admittedly I have no expertise in this area and despite a not insignificant amount of time spent in familiarizing myself with the jargon and methodologies involved, I may be misinterpreting the significance of the work. My ego likes to think that the fact that my multiple linkages to it have not been met by anyone coming forth to tell me I’m completely FOS is a result of my great wisdom, but my more reasonable mind suspects it means my efforts here are mostly ignored.
    At any rate what I find most informing about both this paper and the works it attempts to counter, is that the analysis in each case almost completely excludes the contribution from the hottest places on the sea floor from consideration. If, as this post suggests, those areas are also seriously underestimated or unknown, then even the elevated value that Emile-Geay and Madec arrive at may just be a new lower bound, something the author’s actually admit in the paper.
    Even at the elevated number the geothermal heating value might not seem that significant, but it is worth remembering that the value for the marginal contribution of rising CO2 to AGW is only in the low single digits for W/m2 and it is at least arguable that that value is overstated.
    Here are some selected quotes from the linked paper. I had to convert the PDF to be able to C&P and tried to edit out most of the typos and formating errors that resulted.
    “Of course, the deep ocean is subjected to another heat source: the geothermal flux due to lithospheric cooling. Yet the latter is usually neglected in oceanographic studies, primarily because it amounts to less than 2% of surface heat fluxes (Huang, 1999) – a total power of 0.03 PW and a mean flux of 88 mW m−2 (Stein and Stein, 1992), while surface fluxes are on around 30 to 250 W m−2 , larger by three orders of magnitudes. Although it is clear that geothermal heat flux is weak compared to the surface ones, pointwise comparisons are misleading. First, geothermal heat flux is systematically positive whereas surface fluxes are of both signs, leading to important cancellations on a global scale. Second, the geothermal heat flow acts only on the densest water masses, which are only in contact with the atmosphere in very limited areas at high latitudes, where they are formed through heat and freshwater loss to the atmosphere and sea-ice. Those deep-water formation areas only represent a few thousandths of the global ocean surface, as opposed to a geothermal heat flux spanning the entire seafloor. It turns out that the ratio between the AABW outcropping area and the total seafloor area is about one to a thousand, therefore the surface integrals of the two fluxes scale comparably.”

    “Ridges therefore display a maximum heat flux, while the minimum is 50 mW m−2 on the deepest (and oldest) abyssal plains. Since Eq. (1) becomes singular for young ages, Qgeo was bounded to 400 mW m−2 , as 95% of measurements fall below this value. This yields a global mean of 86.4 mW m−2 , compatible with observations (Pollack et al., 1993). One must however be cognizant of the uncertainties in this dataset: in addition to the uncertainties in the seafloor age estimates, coefficients in the formulae of Stein and Stein (1992) carry their own uncertainty by virtue of being indirectly obtained through least-square fits of theoretical predictions of global depth and heatflow to actual measurements, and they vary somewhat from basin to basin (the misfit being largest in the Indian Ocean, see Stein and Stein (1994)). A back-of-envelope calculation of error propagation shows these biases to dominate the total uncertainty in the dataset presented here.”

    “The case is hereby made that geothermal heating is an important actor of abyssal dynamics. We recommend its inclusion in every model dealing with the long-term ocean circulation, for it substantially alters bottom water mass characteristics and generates a non-negligible circulation in the present-day climate. Further, recent results by Dutay et al. (2008) confirm its importance in correctly simulating tracer distributions in the deep ocean. The case corresponding to MIX Qvar appears to be the most relevant to most users, but it would be most interesting to prescribe it in conjunction with state-of-the-art parameterizations of diapycnal mixing.”

  55. This could change our understanding of the contribution of hydrothermal activity to the thermal budget of the oceans.

    In any summary of the many theories of climatic change theory around 100 years ago, you would read about there being 3 broad classes of possible causes of climatic change: variations in the radiation arriving from the sun, variations in the transparancy of the atmosphere to various wavelengths of radiation, and variations in the heat given off from the earth. The latter class of causes seems to have been considered insignificant for many decades. Could such research as this be the dawn of its revival?

  56. Using chemosynthesis there are microbes that live deep in these vents. they form the bottom of the food chain in the truly unbelievable biotic communities that live on these vents. We know next to nothing about the microbes because we can’t study them. It’s too hot, (chemically and thermally) and too deep. But there evidently are a lot of them. I assume they are the source of the methane.

  57. Just a thought, wouldnt the earths core be affected by the suns magnetic flux? if so then as the magnetic influences affecting the molten core are likely to induce electric currents that would be shorted out and result in heating?? I am a lowly engineer so forgive if this is nieve!

  58. This is one more case of scientists – who know everything about everything (just ask them) – getting blindsided by something in the real world that they, in all their wisdom, did not think of. I see these articles 1,2, maybe 5 times a year. Prior to these events, the scientists are all, “Well, WE know what is going on, Mr. Layman, so STFU and leave the thinking to those of us who have the credentials to think, and you go back to your delivery truck now. There is nothing to see here – except what we decide to tell you.”
    Recently I even started a folder on my PC and one in my Bookmarks, both named, “Science does it again.”
    Having said that:
    Hip hip hooray!
    I’ve been thinking this is an overlooked heat energy source for a very long time. I see that some others here have, too. I bow my hat to Bob(Sceptical Redcoat), who is asking these same questions.
    Now if one wonders how it can affect climate, one would begin by looking for an existing mechanism which would act as a deliverer of the heat. The first phenomena that comes to mind is El Niño.
    I first thought of undersea heat connecting with the climate in regards to the El Niño a long time ago. I was asking the question, “What causes the El Niño?
    I couldn’t find anything on its cause(s). That surprised me. It seems everyone looks at El Niño as a cause in itself, but an event which does not itself have a cause. Of course that isn’t the case. If anyone has an answer, they are are hiding it under a bushel basket. Describing El Niño is not explaining its cause. Yes, the currents change. Yes, the ocean temperatures change. But those characteristics ARE El Niño – they don’t address WHY the temps and currents change. Those are symptoms, not causes.
    It occurred to me that if El Niños have an effect on weather, it is because something is introducing heat energy into the relatively balanced system and unbalancing it. And if that is happening, where is that heat energy coming from?
    Well, the El Niño begins in the open ocean, along the Equator, as we all know. Is there anything along the Equator that might be introducing more heat energy?
    The short answer is, perhaps yes. When I suspected hydrothermal vents, I went looking for them. Whether it is a coincidence or not, the first ones found off the Galápagos Islands are almost directly on the Equator – right in the area where the El Niño was first recognized as an oceanographic event that repeats in an irregular cycle. Something is cyclically putting heat at the surface in those areas – and then that something weakens or fails or changes or shifts, and the heat goes away. And later it all happens again.
    No, I cannot know explain why it is cyclical. (I have guesses, but not answers.) But I have hopes of finding out why, or that someone else will.
    To me the first question is “Are the vents generating enough heat to affect the surface?” This is the question being presented in this article. Perhaps the vents are not generating enough, not if one looks at it as heat dispersed evenly throughout the Pacific. Perhaps heat is sequestered for a while, in the deep ocean, and then some flow changes and the heat is by then built up enough to throw a monkey wrench into the system by overcoming or otherwise affecting some parameter.
    So one corollary question is, “What happens to the heat after it leaves the vents?” Does it just disperse? I now know that it will not disperse evenly.
    From Hydrothermal Vents Discovered Off Antarctica:

    Two important facts helped the scientists isolate the hidden vents. First, the ocean is stratified with layers of lighter water sitting on top of layers of denser water. Second, when a seafloor vent erupts, it spews gases rich in rare helium-3, an isotope found in earth’s mantle and in the magma bubbling below the vent. As helium-3 disperses through the ocean, it mixes into a density layer and stays there, forming a plume that can stretch over thousands of kilometers.

    If the He3 is “staying there” in the dense layers, we have every reason to believe that so do the other elements/chemicals/dissolved minerals – but there is also a good chance some of the heat is also retained in those layers. If the deep ocean currents are anything like the others we know closer to the surface, we know they can be like rivers in the ocean, and can have different salinity, density and temperatures. All of these directly relate to heat transporting capacity and functionality. Just look at the Gulf Stream.
    The next question would be: “How does this heat energy get close enough to the surface to change the ocean-atmosphere equation in a region?
    The heat is coming from somewhere. It is NOT just being shifted around on the surface, so the surface either has to be somehow absorbing more heat energy from the Sun (which does not appear to be the case), or the heat energy is coming from below. It is not being redistributed from a lateral direction on the surface. It is just a plume that shows up from what otherwise measures as much cooler surface water. But cold water can’t create a warm plume, no matter how one mixes it or pushes it around.
    I like what Bob(Sceptical Redcoat) says, who wrote

    I’ve repeatedly speculated, on WUWT and other science blog sites, that Hydrothermal vents could have a much greater impact on the Earth’s thermal budget than the relatively small estimates hitherto attributed. No one bothered to reply! This lack of interest seems strange, considering that our understanding of the ocean depths is even more limited than that of the Earth’s climate or weather (or the sufaces of either the Moon or Mars!!) This is also likely to be highly variable and unpredictable factor over time. I’m pleased that so worthy a scientific body as the Max Planck Institute is at last on the case.

    Well, I may be getting a bit far afield of what he was asking, but I am asking a similar question.
    And BTW, I’ve also asked quite a few questions here without getting very many responses. That is a little disappointing, actually. I agree with him.

  59. @ Dave Springer October 10, 2010 at 10:43 am:

    …Anyhow, there’s an estimate of the energy they produce in watts. The earth’s surface is approximately 500,000,000 sq km. So the typical hydrothermal vent of 500 megawatts contributes about 1 microwatt per square meter to the energy budget. The megaplume would be 200 microwatts.
    I suppose enough of them could make a difference. Five thousand megaplumes or one million typical plumes would add one watt to the energy budget – less than 1% but bordering on significant.

    First of all, thanks for that article.
    Next, in this article this article from this past March it points out that

    In recent decades more than 220 vents have been discovered worldwide…

    I would point out that they have not been looking for these for a really long time, and that 220 should grow substantially.
    I also would point out that they do not in themselves have to be generating heat everywhere to affect conditions in certain focused areas. As a parallel, all of our weather avearges out to where a difference of 0.7°C in that average freaks people out, yet our Standard Deviation from that locally is many times larger than that, so it is obvious that A:) an average doesn’t tell us much about potential impact, and B:) an excess or a lack of local heat energy can have serious affects on our lives, at least for a few days or weeks.
    I am shocked that the Indian Ocean article did not say where the vent was located. It might have some effect on the monsoons if it is located in the right place.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1212_051212_megaplume.html
    Hydrothermal “Megaplume” Found in Indian Ocean
    Brian Handwerk
    for National Geographic News
    December 12, 2005
    “A normal hydrothermal vent might produce something like 500 megawatts, while this is producing 100,000 megawatts. It’s like an atom bomb down there.”

    So, how many of these are there?
    One more thing I’d note:
    One cannot look at a video of a vent and not see a similarity to the BP oil spill. When I look at the velocity of both, they both seem to be VERY close. In some of them the volume being expelled also seems to be reasonably close.
    That brings up the question: If the BP spill was a catastrophic occurrence, and it lasted 3 months or so, how much potential does a vent have to affect matters, when it goes 24/7/365 pretty much forever?
    I’d also point out that your calcs are based on what we currently believe to be true. With this present discovery, scientists are showing that what we think is true often has to take a back seat to new information. The Earths’ interior heat balance may be quite a bit different from what we presently believe it to be. I am not doubting your calcs, but they do make the assumption that what we “know” now is the final word. These vents have been putting heat into our environment for a VERY long time, and no one really looked at them as part of the equation until recently. The PDO also was never considered as part of the equation (because we didn’t know it existed) – but now it has to be included in models and our thinking. New info = new calcs. And there will be many more changes to come. (And they will do their best to incorporate them.)

  60. feet2thefire says: (October 10, 2010 at 7:50 pm) I’ve also asked quite a few questions here without getting very many responses.
    I do read your questions, Feet, and puzzle; but I do not have the science which would give my answers any value — so your musings do have an effect (and I read timeline left to right…).

  61. I’m sure Gary Pearse meant to say the Archean is 3.8 to 2.5 bya. (changing his “mya” to “bya”).

  62. I understand a volume of water equal to the entire earth’s oceans goes through the mid-oceanic ridges every 8 million years or so, with the primary driver for such a process being the hydrothermal temperature regime associated with spreading ridges. That’s a lot of water and a lot of heat removed from the earth’s interior.

  63. Perhaps the big industrial polluters could offset their carbon credits by having Haliburton cap the outlets, otherwise thermal vents may end up releasing even more methane than vegans.

  64. I’ve known about black smokers (and pillow lava etc) for a long time and always been a bit surprised that perceived wisdom thinks geothermal contribution of heat from earth to oceans is relatively trivial – mind you wasn’t the theory for pillow lava ridiculed until it was actually observed in-situ? Given the relatively well known nature of vulcanism on land, surely in the absence of information to the contrary, we would assume things under the sea are pretty similar? (ie variable and often dramatic). The temperature difference between magma and sea water (especially deep sea water) is a few hundred degrees, and the thermal conductivity of seawater is much greater than that of air, so surely you wouldn’t need much sub-sea vulcanism to rival heat fluxes from atmosphere to ocean?
    Then when you think about how much high resolution sea-floor mapping we have and how you have to go from point measurements (sampling) to spatial extent to calculate heat budgets, I’d have thought there is scope there for a lot of known unknowns!
    Earths rotation coupled with convective heat transfer by water vapour causes much of the tropospheric dynamics (putting aside momentarily the MASSIVE contribution from CO2 of course) – why would we think things are less complex dynamically below the crust? Pretty tricky to get down there and make measurements though. Any geologic equivalent to a radiosonde? 🙂
    As for the methane, if there’s not too much free oxygen around, presumably everything would be in a reduced form so methane would be one of the lowest common denominators?
    Anyone know what the isotopic ratios are likely to be in those hot fluids?

  65. kcrucible says:
    October 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm
    “You’re assuming that the earth’s core started out massively hot and has simply been cooling since then, with no added energy.”
    Correct.
    “Gravity and tidal forces serve to wrench the core, causing friction, heating things up.”
    To a degree, yes. Tidal forces are estimated to add 0.002% (3 terawatts, 0.0059 W m-2) to the incoming energy budget.
    “In the aggregate, no doubt it’s cooler now than before, but it’s cooling down a lot slower than merely measuring the heat loss would suggest.”
    Can you provide some support for that assertion?
    “Haven’t really read this site, but it comes up in a google search about tidal heating. When you can have icy moons far away from the sun with volcanic activity, the heat is coming from non-solar means.”
    Yes of course but we’re talking about moons orbiting gas giants where tidal forces generate that much energy. The earth is hardly a gas giant which handily explains why our moon doesn’t have a molten core and to suggest that our moon could keep the earth’s core molten is to suggest that the tail wags the dog. Essentially all the energy in the earth’s energy budget comes from the sun. Less than 1% comes from other sources. These other sources are justifiably ignored. That huge fusion reactor in the sky we call the sun is the primary source of energy for the earth and everything else combined literally pales in comparison.
    http://hotcoreearth.com/?p=47
    “It is noteworthy to realize that Triton itself has the coldest surface temperature of any moon in the Solar System. This is very significant. Because it is so far away Triton receives very little sunlight and so is an icy dead world. Or is it? It has been discovered recently that Triton is actually volcanic! In other words below its surface there is excessive heat! A very strange discovery. Here is a relatively small moon in the distant reaches of the solar system emitting heat from its core just like our own Earth! The question is why?”

  66. Khwarizmi says:
    October 10, 2010 at 9:11 pm
    “Chemosynthetic autotrophs with a taste for hydrocarbons consume methane – they do not produce it.”
    Most archeans are methanogens and are found in great abundance in and around hydrothermal vents. Archean methanogens are classed as chemosynthetic.
    See:
    Introduction to Marine Biology
    By George Karleskint, Richard Turner, James Small
    http://books.google.com/books?id=0JkKOFIj5pgC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=methanogen+chemosynthetic&source=bl&ots=Rkt32khOtH&sig=USx56dkX1HYo93nlnSyJlr02x8k&hl=en&ei=IiuzTOOiDcOAlAeVl73lDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=methanogen%20chemosynthetic&f=false

  67. So, a methanogen produces methane as a metabolic by-product. So I was right – the large quantities of methane are perhaps created by the archeans, rather than utilized as a nutrient. Khwarizmi? What do you think?

  68. The study and investigation of hydrothermal vents is an area of science which needs more investigation.
    Louis Hissink is right. The methane is a tip-off that hydrocarbons are part of the natural mineralogical processes of Earth’s crust & shallow mantle.
    There are over 4,000 minerals, many run in mineralogical families.
    Schematic presentation of abiotic theory of hydrocarbon production:
    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/images/fig01.htm
    Abstract of scientific paper schematic is based on:
    Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons authored by Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan, MagmaChem, LLC, P. O. Box 672, Sonoita, Arizona, USA, 85637
    MagmaChem is financially supported by a consortium of mining & oil companies.
    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/keith.htm
    The chemical reactions and processes which go on deep in the Earth is one of the least understood areas of science.
    Presentation at the Houston Geological Society by Stanley B. Keith: Cracks of the World: Global Strike-Slip Fault Systems and Giant Resource Accumulations
    http://www.hgs.org/en/art/?34

  69. Everyone seems to say Earth’s heat is left over from formation and from radioactive decay.
    Three things:
    1) Heat is also generated in the core through the varying gravitation of the sun, moon and planets. The solid core moves within the liquid outer core, friction and compressing generating heat. Different celestial arrangements change the forces acting on the core. Isn’t that Landschiedt’s idea? Clearly this element of the heat released outwards varies in time.
    2) There was that recent article proposing that the rate of radioactive decay varies depending on the neutrino flux, if true then again clearly the heat generated varies with time.
    3) I have seen no place where the science of estimating the actual output of the Earth’s thermal energy is calculated, I am told it is miniscule compared to the incoming solar, but there is never any explanation of where the figures like 80mW/m2 come from. Who calculated that and how? What if it was out by a factor of 10 and that it varied by 10% or more over decadal or centenial timescales?
    Just naive thoughts…

  70. Dave Springer – I have no time to check your link today – I will do so tonight and add a quick comment.
    William Abbott – apologies for spelling your surname incorrectly in my previous post.
    quote:
    ==================
    Evidence supporting a key role for anaerobic methane oxidation in the global methane cycle is reviewed. Emphasis is on recent microbiological advances. The driving force for research on this process continues to be the fact that microbial communities intercept and consume methane from anoxic environments, methane that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. Anaerobic methane oxidation is biogeochemically important because methane is a potent
    greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and is abundant in anoxic environments.
    Geochemical evidence for this process has been observed in numerous marine sediments along the continental margins, in methane seeps and vents, around methane hydrate deposits, and in anoxic waters. The anaerobic oxidation of methane is performed by at least two phylogenetically distinct groups of archaea, the ANME-1 and ANME-2.
    These archaea are frequently observed as consortia with sulfate-reducing bacteria, and the metabolism of these consortia presumably involves asyntrophic association based on interspecies electron transfer.
    […]
    The net chemical reaction associated with AOM is given in Equation(1).
    CH4 + SO2−4 →HCO−3 + HS− + H2O
    ——-
    Biogeochemistry and microbial ecology of methane oxidation in anoxic environments: a review.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12448726
    ==================
    I want to see the chemical equation for turning dinosaur and cabbage goo into “fossil” fuel. I’ve been trying to find one for four years.
    Anyway….
    ==================
    Newly-discovered polychaete and shrimp species have been found living directly on methane hydrate ices.
    […]
    Tell students that their assignment is to describe the overall chemical processes involved in using methane and hydrogen sulfide to synthesize organic material.
    ——
    This Life Stinks! – NOAA:
    http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/03windows/background/education/media/03win_lifestinks.pdf
    ==================
    The Gulf of Mexico is seething with hydro-carbon fueled life.
    Titan has no life, but as Smokey pointed out, it has a sea of methane (and lakes) filled with methane rain. Titan has an atmosphere estimated to be similar in composition to crude oil.

  71. @ Roger Carr October 10, 2010 at 8:41 pm…

    I do read your questions, Feet, and puzzle

    Thanks, Roger, for the feedback.
    It appears that you’ve visited my blog at http://www.feet2thefire.wordpress.com. If this sometimes isn’t the place for your comments, feel free to stop in again.
    Your comment here triggered a post there, entitled On puzzles, science and Real Reality. I invite you to respond – there or there.

  72. So, the possibility exists that the vast currents of the world oceans are directly affected, if not caused by, thermal vents on ocean bottoms. These currents then move through the oceans, at greater or lesser depths depending on local temperature gradients and in general move heat from the equator polewards, where they encounter colder waters and eventually sink and return to the equator. Some say there is evidence that the
    Coriolis Effect is causative for currents and some say tides play a role.
    I await an onslaught of links.

  73. Richard Holle says:
    October 10, 2010 at 11:23 am
    My understanding is that the abundance of U-235 is no longer high enough relative to the abundance of U-238, at least for natural reactors to occur in surface deposits. Studying up on them reveals they would not have been common. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_reactor

  74. In this vast ocean, it is hard to believe that the few hydrothermal vents can produce substantial heat increase. Hydrothermal vents are also believed to exist in other planets. In the latest discovery by American Scientists exploring 68-mile-long Mid-Cayman rise deep beneath the surface of the Caribbean, discovered the deepest known hydrothermal vent in the world and was published in a recent issue of PNAS. What is more fascinating about these vents are the biological organisms thriving around it harnessing the heat and nutrients from the vent independent of the solar energy, which leads to the speculation that there might be similar organogenesis situation existing on other planets. The DNA collected from these areas by this group might throw some light into the biogensis of this biome.

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