WHOI Hosts Event Celebrating 40th Anniversary of Discovery of Deep-Sea Hot Springs

WOODS HOLE – The discovery of lush communities of deep-sea life at thermal springs on the seafloor in 1977 forever changed our perception of where and how life could exist on Earth.

Diving in the human-occupied submersible Alvin, a team of scientists, including famed ocean explorer Robert Ballard, was the first to explore the springs, also known as hydrothermal vents, in detail.

Ballard will be the keynote speaker at a free public forum, hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as part of the Morss Colloquia series, recapitulating the discovery of hydrothermal vent life 40 years ago in the Pacific Ocean.

Evidence of vent life (dead clam shells) first came during an expedition in 1976.

A year later, photographs obtained by the deep-towed camera system called ANGUS showed thriving communities of live clams and mussels on the deep seafloor. Hours later, scientists dove in Alvin.

The forum also includes a discussion afterward by a panel of scientists on current and future research on chemosynthetic life forms, which live on chemicals in the absence of sunlight—on Earth and possibly on other planetary bodies.

The forum will be held 6 to 8 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27 in the Lillie Auditorium in Woods Hole.

For more information, visit whoi.edu.

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