Hydrothermal Vents Discovered 3,000 Meters Below Arctic Ocean – Scientists Uncover Secrets of Jøtul Field!

Exploring the depths of the Arctic Ocean near Svalbard, scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery at a hydrothermal vent field along the Knipovich Ridge, located between Greenland, Norway, and Svalbard. This vent field, named Jøtul after a Nordic giant, was previously unknown despite being a major junction of tectonic plates. The University of Bremen’s Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM) researchers used a remotely controlled sub to gather samples and data from this unique site.

Hydrothermal vents are formed at the intersection of shifting tectonic plates, where geothermal activity is most intense. They are created when water seeps into the ocean floor, is heated by magma, and then rises back up enriched with minerals. What sets the Knipovich Ridge apart is that it was not formed by plates crashing together, but rather by plates moving apart at a slow rate, known as a spreading ridge.

The Jøtul Field boasts incredibly hot fluids reaching temperatures up to 316°C (601°F), which solidify into chimney-like structures called black smokers when they mix with the frigid ocean water. These hydrothermal fluids are rich in methane and carbon dioxide, raising questions about their impact on the environment and the carbon cycle in the ocean. Additionally, the diverse lifeforms that inhabit these vents provide insight into unique ecosystems that thrive in the depths of the ocean.

Despite being a relatively unexplored area, scientists are eager to study the chemical composition of the fluids escaping from the vents, as well as the geological features formed by this activity. The biodiversity of the area remains largely unknown, but researchers plan to return to the site in late summer 2024 to further investigate. Their findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports, shedding light on a mysterious and fascinating underwater world waiting to be fully understood.