New Undersea Vent Image 1
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New Undersea Vent (Image 1)

June 29, 2010
New Undersea Vent (Image 1) A newly discovered Medusa hydrothermal chimney and black smoker, as photographed by the undersea remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason II. The new discovery was named the Medusa hydrothermal vent field to highlight the presence of a pink form of the jellyfish order Stauromedusae, as well as numerous spiky tubeworm casings that festoon the vent chimney and bring to mind "the serpent-haired Medusa of Greek myth," said expedition leader Emily Klein, a geology professor from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. It's likely that the pink bell-shaped jellyfish sighted near the vent may be previously undiscovered. This image was taken during a research voyage on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research vessel Atlantis. The research trip was supported by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) RIDGE 2000 Program (under grant OCE 05-26120). The purpose of the cruise was to explore the relationships between surface geology, geochemistry, and hydrothermal activity, as well as the seismically determined distribution of melt in magma chambers beneath the 9°03N Overlapping Spreading Center along the East Pacific Rise. The multidisciplinary and multi-institutional program was led by principal investigators from Duke University, the Universities of South Carolina, Florida and New Hampshire, and WHOI. The original ROV Jason was designed and built by WHOI's Deep Submergence Laboratory to allow scientists access to the seafloor without leaving the deck of a ship. Jason was first launched in 1988, and the system has been used for hundreds of dives to hydrothermal vents in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It is now in its second generation, with a sturdier and more advanced vehicle--the Jason II, launched in 2002. To learn more about the research cruise, see the Science Daily story "New Undersea Vent Suggests Snake-headed Mythology." (Date of Image: April 2007) [One of five related images. See Next Image.]

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