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Oceanography: Death and rebirth in the deep

Richard Lutz, a marine biologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and his colleagues were 2,500 metres beneath the ocean’s surface when they encountered the ‘blizzard’. It was April 1991, and an underwater ridge, 900 kilometres off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico, was splitting open, introducing 1,200 °C molten rock to 2 °C water. The results were apocalyptic.

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Multicelled Animals May Live Oxygen-Free

The claim is startling and the evidence indirect, but marine biologists seem open to the idea that multicellular animals can live without oxygen.

Three species of loriciferan, a creature that sounds and looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, appear to go their whole lives without oxygen, researchers report online April 6 in BMC Biology.

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Briny deep basin may be home to animals thriving without oxygen

The claim is startling and the evidence indirect, but marine biologists seem open to the idea that multicellular animals can live without oxygen.

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Seamounts Reach a Pinnacle in Upcoming Issue of Oceanography

Lying beneath the ocean is spectacular terrain ranging from endless chains of mountains and isolated peaks to fiery volcanoes and black smokers exploding with magma and other minerals from below Earth’s surface. This mountainous landscape, some of which surpasses Mt. Everest heights and the marine life it supports, is the spotlight of a special edition of the research journal Oceanography.

These massive underwater mountains, or seamounts, are scattered across every ocean and collectively comprise an area the size of Europe. These deep and dark environments often host a world teeming with bizarre life forms found nowhere else on Earth. More than 99 percent of all seamounts remain unexplored by scientists, yet their inhabitants, such as the long-lived deepwater fish orange roughy, show signs of habitat destruction and over exploitation from intense international fishing efforts.

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Marine Scientists Discover Deepest Undersea Erupting Volcano

Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NOAA have recorded the deepest erupting volcano yet discovered—West Mata Volcano—describing high-definition video of the undersea eruption as “spectacular.”

“For the first time we have been able to examine, up close, the way ocean islands and submarine volcanoes are born,” said Barbara Ransom, program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “The unusual primitive compositions of the West Mata eruption lavas have much to tell us.”

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Could Jupiter Moon Harbor Fish-Size Life?

In the oceans of a moon hundreds of millions of miles from the sun, something fishy may be alive—right now.

Below its icy crust Jupiter‘s moon Europa is believed to host a global ocean up to a hundred miles (160 kilometers) deep, with no land to speak of at the surface.

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Plumbing the depths for new species

Royal Research Ships, it seems, are a little like giant telescopes.

Instead of buying, or hiring one, and sailing away to conduct their experiments in a one-off voyage, scientists “book time” on the research ship that’s passing closest to the feature they want to study. The ships themselves plough endlessly this way and that across the high seas.

It’s the most efficient way of managing what are admittedly expensive bits of kit – the RRS James Cook cost the Natural Environment Research Council some £36 million in 2006 – but it means they’re constantly at sea. When one does finally put in to port, there’s something of a mad scramble to load it up with experimental equipment that may not be needed for months or even years.

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