Massive expanse of towering hydrothermal vents discovered deep in the Pacific

Scientists sent underwater robots into the depths of the Pacific, about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) beneath the surface, and discovered something unexpected: a football field-size expanse of towering hydrothermal vents that cropped up in an area these underwater chimneys haven’t typically been seen.

The hydrothermal vents, shaped like candelabras, stand roughly 35 to 40 feet (10 to 12 meters) tall, or about as tall as three-story buildings, the research team leaders, from Lehigh University, said in a statement (opens in new tab). These striking structures gush black, mineral-filled water that reaches temperatures (opens in new tab) of up to 694 degrees Fahrenheit (368 degrees Celsius), although the water likely starts out at an even higher temperature, closer to 818 F (437 C), the team determined. Such high temperatures hint that a volcanic eruption may occur at the site in the next few years.

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