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Images: A Ridge Too Slow?

The Southwest Indian Ridge is a spreading center between the African tectonic plate, (top left, yellow-orange) and the Antarctic plate (bottom left, red). (Image by NOAA Geophysical Data Center)

The Chinese research vessel Dayang 1, which means "big ocean," was used in the discovery of the first hot vents on the Southwest Indian Ridge. (Photo by Mr. Huisheng Lu of R/V Dayang 1)

WHOI team members (left to right) Al Duester, Andy Billings, and Christopher German recover ABE from one of its three dives in the Indian Ocean. (Photo courtesy of InterRidge program)

The Chinese research team celebrates two "firsts": making the first Chinese discovery of a hydrothermal vent site, and retrieving the first mineral-rich samples from a vent site on the Southwest Indian Ridge. (Photo courtesy of Dana Yoerger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Three members of the WHOI team: Christopher German, Jian Lin, and Dana Yoerger stand before the WHOI ABE underwater autonomous vehicle on the deck of the R/V Dayang 1. (Photo courtesy of InterRidge Program)

Jian Lin, leader of the WHOI team (right), and Mr. Songgang Zhen, captain of R/V Dayang 1, stand before the WHOI ABE vehicle. (Photo by R/V Dayang 1 science party)